(Of Man and Religion)
LEARNING SOME RELIGION
Packy was a good wheeler dealer up there until the Texas Rangers got jealous. He knew some Apaches, he knew some bad men on one side of the river, he knew some on the other side, he knew some greedy sheep herders, up in New Mexico. He could get rid of horses, guns, cattle, or women. He was a man you trusted because he only made money for the fun of it. His only problem was that he could not trust anybody he knew up there anymore, and that is why he asked us to come up there, and protect him. He said he had not been able to sleep good nights until we came up there. Black Hatch said to him right off well, Packy, that sure sounds rough, and Packy said yeah, it sure is good to see you, Hatch boy, and everybody else too, Wild Bill, Dan, Sieb, it's powerful good to be seeing all you fellers, because I know you're still my blood brothers, and I sure am glad our compadre Bix over there sleeping sound as a babe ain't carrying no lead in'im, yessir. We drank some tequila Packy had sent up that first night to celebrate, and smoked weed, and he slept on that floor there with us because of a premonition that some of the maids had conspired with some mysterious enemies he had in a plan where the maids let his enemies into his room while he slept to kill him for his money on him and gold watch and rings. Before we came he had been staying under his bed at night armed to the teeth waiting for them, and this is why he had been thinking of leaving town. So he also slept on the floor with us the night after that, and the night after that, and we was having some pretty good pow-wows passing the pipe, too, but it was that third night, if it were not the fourth, that Dan had made him a girlfriend with one of the maids, and because this maid did not want to lay herself down on our floor amongst everybody with Dan, and also because Sieb went haw haw haw when she made claim they were going to be wedded, why Danny took her to Packy's room, and Packy told him, just in case, where the sawed off shotgun was, under the bed.
So now, what happened was, Sieb, because he got horny too, had gone out that next morning, because he said it was Monday, to find the bordello, and I think maybe he did go there on Monday morning, cept he didn't bring us back no women like had been his promise, no, he did not, but he must of went, because that was what he was going out for, but, he stopped off at the market place, is what he said, and he brought us back a great big feed sack full of this peyote cactus, for a present. Now we asked him plain, did he or did he not, try to get some women, and all he said was he had brought gifts, and made like his feelings were hurt. Said he had to have him some visions. Hatch told'im how he oughta get some boots first. Naw, said Sieb, visions first, boots later. When I get me my visions, I will then know what color my boots are going to be. Just like the Indians. Everybody knew Sieb for a smart boy, even if he is crazy, and, well, we all decided to have those visions with him. Visions first, women later, so as to be sure what color women, and what size, and shape, and how smart these women were going to be, and how pretty and how ugly and mean and everything else they were going to be. But that peyote was mighty dirty and Packy had a couple of the maids to wash it down for us and everybody ganged around these maids and studied them close when they was both of them in the wash-room scrubbing down a tub full of peyote apiece, and one of these maids was Maria, that was as pretty as a young Mescan gal can be, and that is as pretty as any kind of woman is ever going to be, and I said so, and Hatch he said, Olive, you ever get yourself a woman that was white, and I said no, not exactly as I never recall seeing a real white woman that I truly lusted over. So Hatch said he was glad I was proud to be a squawman, and I said, Hatch, take Maria here now, and I was pointing to the other gal there that had the name Maria, too, she had said, as they was both of them Maria, see, and I told him why this other Maria, that was a older and heavier gal, why she could probably take better care of him in bed and at suppertime too and mind her own business while she was at it better than any good white woman he ever had, and he told me that was not quite true bec~use he never had yet what you call a good white woman, and those two Marias were getting real nervous and I don't know if it was because they knew what peyote was or what.
Dan joined us by then, and he decided to have some visions too so as to forget about his fiance for a spell, and we took those two tubs of peyote back to the room to have visions. The doc was there, and Bix was awake and eating breakfast, and we was glad to see him eating again, and then we took out our bowie knives and started cutting off pieces of green peyote and trying to eat it. The doc thought we should go to Packy's room to have visions, for to let Bix get his rest in, but Packy said no, no sense on us taking any chances on having to shoot it out with his enemies, is there, unless of course we have to, and besides, he told the doc, that was a mite nervous again, we were going to be sure to have us only real quiet visions, and so the doc left us, quick like. The peyote was real bitter when you ate it, and Bix only ate a real little piece, and he said it was terrible, and he did not want to lose his first breakfast in over a week. The rest of us had been eating all the breakfast they could find to bring us up all day long and so we all had plenty to lose, and it got to be so much trouble running off down the hall to the water closet they had in this good hotel that we soon settled for urping it out the window. Bix was in a good humor to be coming alive once again and he sat up in bed watching us and sipping on a bottle of tequila and he was having a grand time. He even told Danny's new fiance that if Dan would not marry her he would, as she had come into the room and was starting to worry some on Danny, and she took a drink offa the bottle as it was offered to her and sat herself up in that bed with Bix, and she was a young and pretty little thing and pretty soon she had taken to giggling a little bit. Her name was Juanita and I thought it fit her. She had long straight hair that was in these long pigtails and I started seeing her hair would look better out of those pigtails and I said so to Bix and he took it loose and he made some of it fall down the front of her dress and tried to get it back out and Dan said get your hands off my woman and ran to the window and Juanita got it out before Bix could and she was happier now to see Danny worrying about her and my god but her hair was looking fine. It's hard to beat a good looking Mexican girl, Hatch, said I, and Hatch said it was. We smoked some marijuana to help us get down more of that peyote, and Sieb said he was going to name the first daughter he had Marijuana because it was such a pretty sounding name, and everybody agreed, and then we had more peyote. The last time we urped there was a real good looking senorita out in the street, a high class gal in a red flamenco dress with beautiful brown shoulders and breasts and black hair flopping down on them and that dress twinkled in the sun like red stars and ran down mus-cles in her belly like a flemenco dancer has and it flowed around those wide hips and ass whenever she moved, and the hips and ass was moving like a ocean no matter what she did, even if she just stood there holding a basket, and yellow and red flickered like fire in her skin and blue in her hair, and her face which was the most beautiful and fine I have seen yet was beyond my most poetic description, and we all had to go first, to urp I mean, with Dan getting to the window first, and Dan turned around pronto and said he could not do it with green sliding out his mouth into his whiskers and him grabbing his mouth to hold it shut while he ran from the room to find the water closet down the hall, and Hatch and me was urping on the window sill before we saw her and knew what happened to Dan, and we went on and urped good, and it sure was the best urp I ever had, and we would wipe our eyes every now and then to see her good, and Packy was needing to get between us, and when Hatch took off his hat and bowed to the lady Packy grabbed him by the shoulders and heaved him across the room, and Packy leaned far over that window and went bla! , bla! , bla! , and I stood there a moment thinking about what could we do now about this lady, because Packy did not look store-bought at all anymore, he looked about as bad as we did, and he was just standing there wiping his mouth on his sleeve real serious at the lady which was now backed clean across the street looking up at us with big Spanish eyes which went wild looking fierce one second and like she might faint the next when Hatch came back across the room and flung Packy out of his way and didn't have his hat on this time so he smiled real fine at the lady and started talking to her. Hatch points at all this second-hand peyote out in the street and he says, verde! , verde! , and that means green. Meanwhile there was this big fight out in the hall between Dan and Sieb and this great big feller be-cause first Dan had run smack into him and he knocked Dan down and then came Sieb and ran into him after giving up on getting any room to urp at the window and they was calling the feller a drunk Gringo mother-humper because some of the maids was clammering again and the man had green puke all on him and the plan was to say he was drunk and to make out it was his fault not theirs, and they were winning the fight and wanting to toss him over the banister downstairs except the feller could take a hell of a beating and kept putting up too much resistance, and as they were trying to take him one way to get him past the banister he was going the other way and when Packy opened our door they all three came through it and went across Bix's bed and over it while Bix that is real fast broke the tequila bottle on the man's head on his way over, for to impress Juanita Bix did of course, and Bix was coming alive and having a grand time, and now the boys had this big feller up off the floor and against the window and was a thumping on him, and suddenly this big feller landed one on Sieb and it spinned Sieb back across the room, so I busted him in the teeth then, and Dan and Hatch latched onto a leg apiece and lifted him just enough to tumble him out that window, and Sieb went over to the maids standing in the doorway and started explaining, barracho Gringo, barracho Gringo, and Bix was thinking fast and had flung covers over Juanita the other side of him in bed to hide her as she was supposed to be working. Packy looked down at this feller laying in the street and said he knew the man. Close the door, Sieb, he said, close the door fast before they see me. Sieb closed the door and Packy went on to explain this feller out in the street down there was one of the ones out to get him. Close that window too, Olive! he said. I did, because the senorita had screamed and run off and there wasn't nothing else to be looking at, and it was around siesta time so there wasn't hardly any witnesses case we'd killed that feller. Next thing hap-pened was Sieb on top the chest 0' drawers screaming about this cock-roach what was, said he, big as a steer. He was waving a pistol saying can I shoot it, Dan, can I shoot it. Please let me shoot! Dan answered, no, no, don't shoot, my head, my head! Here, Sieb, called out Black Hatch, my knife, my knife. Take my knife! Catch my knife, Sieb, fast! Hatch had his bowie knife tied in its sheath and flung underhanded with two hands to Sieb, whose eyes were bugged almost loose from their sockets, and Sieb just managed to snatch that knife, as it went sailing overhead, and he yelled out it was behind Hatch now, and Hatch whooped and jumped free and whirled around and came back with a vicious kick, and Sieb told Hatch he missed. Where she be! went on Hatch real loud that used to sail on ships. I said sail, not work, Though any of it's work. You can't get away from the work. Anyway, Hatch went, whar she be! and Sieb went, yaaa! and leaped with the bowie knife barely missing the ceiling and he came down out of the air and onto the floor somewhere with a rolling crash, and then he was up on his feet again and went on about where was it and going to rip its guts out and his eyes was two round balls out in the air about six inches from his head and his head would wheel one way and those eyes would float some other direction. It sure did beat all. Packy was jumped up in the bed and pushed little Juanita on Bix and she was still nothing but a lump under the covers, and Bix told him to take his boots off if he had to be in bed with him and Juanita, and Packy had only got one boot off and cut his foot on some of that broken tequila bottle and commenced to bleed on the bed. Bix said to him get out of the bed so's to find out who it was that was bleeding and Packy said to him that it was him, and he got out by making a leap over to the chest 0' drawers, and it was a pretty good leap because he did not touch the floor just bled on it some on his way there before he clawed his way completely to the top of the drawers and just before the whole chest 0' drawers fell over, and he studied his cut foot from up there. I had settled to a corner with my pistol and knife to watch over things and the roach had got away from Sieb and Hatch that was still looking for it. Dan was wanting to go outside for a spell but when he opened the door and looked out into the hall something caused him to change his mind, and he said, let's all have some more weed and think this over, and everybody agreed. Dan filled his pipe and sat by me and lit up and only Hatch remembered to come over and have some. Sieb was on his belly with Hatch's knife slithering across the floor to sneak up on a roach that was sniffing around on the other side of the room, and Packy studied his foot. Juanita had looked up from the covers, saw the blood and all and started screaming, and Sieb was crying for fear she would spook the roach. Bix told Sieb he was trying to shut her up, and Sieb said to please do, Bix, this is the same big cockroach I been after all morning. She would not shut up until Dan yelled out an order for her to, and for her to get the hell out of that bed with Bix, didn't care whether Bix was woubded or no, he knew Bix, and to come over where he was at and be with her man as is only proper, and so blubbering not nearly so loud as she'd been screaming she crawled from the bed and went and collapsed against Dan and he made her slow down enough to take in some weed. The roach was still out in the open, sniffing out a spot of blood close under Packy, and Sieb had stopped his blubbering and was out to get it again. We all said, atta boy, Sieby, get that big cockroach, and was cheering him on. Packy was on his hands and knees looking down and said it was the same gigantic insect alright, no doubt about it, and he knew Sieb could do it. Get'im while he's feeding, Sieb, get'im while he's feeding, Packy was telling him. Every-body get quiet! Sieb whispered. Everybody got quiet for Sieb to stalk that cockroach and it was the best piece of stalking I ever saw in my life. Old Sieb boy just took his time about it. It was like he had all the time in the world. The maids were jabbering up and down outside and all through the building but old Sieb paid them no mind, no sir, because he knew from the way that roach was moving when he ate off that puddle of blood that that roach didn't see Sieb and wasn't going nowhere yet. Juanita had finally shut up and begun to pay attention to all that was going on, and as old Sieb was slithering along real quiet and careful to catch that roach by the element of surprise we could all hear every-body in the hotel as well as everybody out in the street and we could hear the big feller out down there starting to find out he'd been thrown out the window. He was alive alright, and said he had both legs broke. At first the big feller was wanting to know if there was anybody to help him or if he was going to have to die out there. Sieb was almost on that roach by now and he whispered to Packy to hold it, I believe he sees you up there, he is about to spook, and Packy said he sees me, he sees me, he thinks it's me the one after'im, jump Sieb, make your play now before it's too late, and Sieb sprung, with a fierce cry. He wrestled that big roach and Packy hollered for him to try for a neck hold, Sieb boy, you're the one has the knife, come on boy, I know you can do it! He's got on top o'me, Sieb said, I need some help! You can do it, said Packy. Rip his guts out, you're the one has the knife. Help me, help me, said Sieb. I'm wounded already, said Packy, can't do it, this time, Sieb, but, you can, you, can do it, Sieb, I got faith in you! We kept cheering him on-we're all behind you, Sieb, get'im, get'im-and sure enough Sieb got back on top it and he got that roach pinned and he cut his finger but he got that roach too, finished him off. Then Sieb lay on his back moaning that he was purified and that he had finally killed his demon, and things like that, something about the blood of Jesus Christ to prove it. The feller down in the street had finally got some help and he was howling, and he said a lot of mean things about wiping out that nest of horse thieves up there soon as his gang got to town. Everybody in the hotel was worried about something or other, in fact. All of us but Sieb lay quiet for a spell and listened to all them worried people, and I never in my life heard such a nervous pack of human beings. Sieb was not the only one carrying on about God and Jesus
Christ and the Devil. The management was going to charge us three times the normal rent, and then they was hunting for Juanita, and then they was doing this, and then they was doing that, and then they was helping the big feller back up the stairs, and then they was calling the police again, and then they was calling the doc, then they was knocking on our door, then they wasn't, then they was a looking at us through those bullet holes all in the door, and then they wasn't. It sure did beat all. We checked our guns and got our things together and lay there quiet and smoking and thinking about it. All except Sieb that got up all blood smeared holding onto Hatch's knife and he unlatched the door and went out talking about it all and he made a little round out through the hall and soon came back inside and said to us it was insane out there, that he never saw nothing like it before.
We locked the door and Dan put a blanket over Juanita to disguise her, and we smoked the peace pipe some more and thought about it all, and we were also having music and colors and getting high because that peyote is really something. The police came, all of them again, and looked through the bullet holes awhile, and finally the chief of police knocked on the door, and since nobody said nothing he hit it with his rifle butt a few times, and so Packy said, manana, manana, Gringo barracho, Gringo barracho, manana, and because it was only a fight between Gringos the police force got tired and went away. Even Sieb was quiet by then, oh, he was mumbling some every now and then, but things got quiet for a time, and we lay there thinking and studying the situation until the situation was nothing at all. Looked like there was a gang after Packy, O.K., but it was just another one of those things, best not to even be involved with. We had to put Bix somewheres else so he could get well and we were sure Juanita was fired by now so we hired her to take care of him for us. We got everything together some-time before dawn and had the rest of that good peyote in the feed sack and were on our way out with Bix to go put him in the house of an aunt Juanita had for the time being when just before we went down the stairs we saw the big feller come from the water closet on a crutch. He was all bunged up alright, and a little scared of us by now, but he still had plenty vinegar, got to hand it to him, here was a man with some balls, saying to Packy-Gunter! It is you! I am lucky to be alive, Packy Gunter, but I will see that you get yours! You are a double dealing Indian giver! -and Gunter said nobody ever pleased everybody and nobody ever catches Packy Gunter, too. Hatch said could he go over and kick that man's crutch loose. Packy said no, that could bring all the maids back out again, which could embarrass Juanita, that had stood the trials of courage and we should give kindness to'er now, and we went on down out into the most beautiful and holy night we had ever seen.