Chapter Five
(Of Man and Violence)


I never got it too straight this disagreement Bowman had with the owner of The Bent Hand House of Chance and Love. The owner, remember, was this bartender gave us some trouble in the first place. Case you don't remember.

Also, I want to say this. Say what you want about Dan McConchie but don't say he is not a tough man. Don't never say that, We hate liars.

I can remember when I had this Comanche wife named Toopah Tookarno Wayetowak, think it went, though I always just said Way or Wayhe. I say I had her, instead of having her still, because, as I hear, she has now married herself a used to be Negro Calvery feller, believe so, one of them poor Niggers what did atrocities to the Comanches, like that time under Captain Carter when that authorized hospital camp was massacred and the women not killed was raped. It is, maybe so, mostly by fault mine, except she was the meanest woman I ever knew. like Dan, a Scorpion. Seems the poor Nigger feller got out of the Calvery and courted Wayhe to prove black men were human, and she did have a tender spot. If she were not real good, then she was apt to carve your heart out, so she must of been by the stars a Scorpion. We were living at Dan's cabin on the Colorado when she did start to rip my heart out with a butcher knife and I had just managed to turn with her in time and fling her across one side of that cabin to the other and the wonder is she did not cut herself. Wayhe was really a fine woman, but I guess I let her take too many notions, and she and Danny did not get along, and she soon saw I was not too much at fighting losing fights, which was about the best her people could do by that time, and she saw too I was not too good at settling under an ordinary white man's existence, andr> on the other hand nor was she willing to walk out on her own people that time with me, and, well, hang it, nothing were getting along then. Dan was trapping and trying to get over being shot up, thought to maybe get him a little stake together, and I was just there to see nothing went wrong, and smoke some weed too. Wayhe had me pegged for a coward, even as, and I don't want to talk about this much, I have kilied some whites in a couple of Comanche fights. Goddamn, there is enough against me in Texas already without all those farmers adding that up too. Anyway, weren't nothing working out too good there on the Colorado, and if you think maybe people. don't like me in Texas you ought to know about Dan. Dan got himself into more silk drawers than any man I ever saw. At the cabin he had not then said the same lawyer and potential mayor of Austin, Texas, that had tried to have Dan wiped out was still meaning to see him wiped out. So, a bullet still in his flank and one what passed out his chest old Dan had run up there to wait and got me to look out after him too, and didn't tell me none about it. Now some, like said Wayhe this last day I saw her, might say this was not thoughtful of Dan. Wayhe, in fact, had the two of us pegged as cowards. But, the way it is. Dan, and his other brother Dave, the two outlaw type McConchie boys I get along with, for some reason have got like things of habit and manner, can't put my finger on it, that I see in my own two brothers, and me, maybe. Can't say what is it. Black Hatch is maybe, on the other hand, my closest partner. Sometimes Packy. Like, Dan and I have too many arguments because there is something akin between us. Now I have several good blood brothers and maybe I should not pick, but Hatch and I have these mean arguments but I think we kind of enjoy it. But Dan is too touchy. Starts screaming at me when things get bad. Things were bad at the cabin without those other fellers coming up, but Dan did not know for sure they was coming, so did not talk about it. He knew I had plenty reason to be watching my own tracks, as is second nature to me anyway. The only time in my life I ever lost the drop was when they got us into that Nuevo Laredo jail. Well, when I was drinking whiskey with my two brothers that time I got shot in the thigh but that wasn't exactly the same. And Dan knows these things. He is mean, but he believes in me and except that Wayhe had messed us up by scaring Dan so much after her little outburst with the butcher knife that he had cached our rifles and ammunition outside the cabin, we was ready for the night attack by the lawyer with his three thugs. I had been outside taking my middle of the night piss, it happens, when I heard them. I would of heard them anyway. I would of smelled them in my sleep when they was trying to light a couple of torches they was gomg to toss at us. They was real clumsy and I walked on back in to get my guns because I knew they had not seen me. The only gun inside were our forty-fives, five of them, which Dan did not think Wayne oould handle, and, what was my fault, I had thought those fellers would spend some time getting those torches ready, but no, instead one of them decided to start blasting his rifle through the window of the cabin. Then as two of them was still arguing about the torches, this lawyer sonofabitch yells out for Dan to come out with his hands high. The ones that was arguing then took it up and said that too, cept they said they was diring him to come out with his hands high. For that there was more argument. I was asking Dan where was the rifles and ammunition, because I did not want to fight those men with no rifles for our side, no. But he said it was all hid out down in the river bed and I could never find it in the dark anyway. See, he was all bunged up, two bad wounds in him, I guess so, but had been doing this work with his traps, because he is tough, with me doing nothing then but smoking a little weed and trying to get a holiday in even though Wayhe never let me, and Dan, wheezing and coughing blood, was about to hobble on out in that dark night to sneak through their side and go get our rifles and ammunition which he said was in a tree on the river bed, of all places. He was hard to handle and I did not know if I was going to have to run out at that rifle and shoot those men or what, and maybe get shot. Except it was not one but two rifles, and now they was both shooting clean through the chinks of that log cabin. Not all the time, sometimes it didn't go through. We got on the floor and tried to be flat. The safest place was the fireplace and I got Wayhe to take a blanket and go roll up and lay in it and she was calm like the warrior's woman she is. They didn't get too many into the front doorway, which was the only way she could get hit. They got scared of the doorway after understanding there was resistance. But only having maybe a hundred of forty-five cartridges for our pistols, we had to be sparing and did not shoot too much till it was daylight, and, man, damn it all, if Dan did not blow that lawyer feller's head off at the break of dawn. That man was in the wrong place at the wrong time and gunfighting was not his profession. Now Dan had been doing poorly all night then, see, because the truth was his ass had been infected for two days, but I must say that bagging that lawyer raised his spirits. I will even lay it eased his conscience. He is that kind of man. So we were feeling pretty good then and when we called out to those other three misguided devils if they wanted to call off the fight and they had got so insane by then that they gave us for a answer that even though they was paid off it was going to be a grudge fight from here on out, why we still felt good. Alright you motherfuckers, from here on it will be a fight for fun! Right, Wild Bill! Right, Dan! You are right on that one! Hee-haw! You hear that you motherfuckers! That was Wild Bill Olive giving you his war whoop! Give'em your war whoop again, Wild Bill! Wild Bill says he is coming out there and wiping you poor motherfuckers out! Right, Wild Bill! Right, Dan! You are right on that one! Soon as you bag one more to put the odds nice because I ain't got no rifle! He-e-haw-aw! You poor motherfuckers hear that one! That was Wild Bill giving you his war whoop! Soon as I bag me one more of you poor motherfuckers he is going to get carried away and come out of here at you! I tell you, we got to those fellers. They ran out of range and went on raising hell with the cabin. But with all the brush and things they wasn't much going through the wall and Wayhe was too restless to stay put and she remembered we had a bucket near full of water in there with us and came and gave us a drink, me watching the window and sniffing the wind. Dan watching the door and sniffing the wind. We was feeling better all the time. Knew our medicine was good that day. And sure enough, when one of those misguided devils clumb a tree over our cabin to be shooting through the roof, and the correct tree was off to the right of the doorway and Dan had to snap around with a left hand shot and with me covering for him with a shot out the other side of the doorway, damned if Dan didn't bring that feller out of that tree, and the man, with his leg near blown off at the knee, was rolling on down- hill hugging the rifle and Dan stepped out sudden and snapped another slug onto his back of head, while I covered by firing at where I figured they was even though they was out of range, because, like I say, we had them jumping. He-e-e, haw-aw! Aw-aw-aw-ee-aw! That was Wild Bill again you poor motherfuckers! I just blowed out the brains of the poor motherfucker that was clumb his goddamned tree like a goddamned squirrel and now that the odds are good here comes Wild Bill out after you! Hoop, hoop, hoop, ee~e-ee-haw! Right Wild Bill! Right, Dan! You are right on that one! Dan has already got his half of you poor motherfuckers and now I'm a coming to get my half! Hoop, hoop, hoop, ee-ee-ee-haw! Haw! Whoo-oo-ee,my! Landsake! So Dan sprayed the twigs as I ran and snatched the dead man's rifle and started on my stalk. Needless to say, they high tailed. Actually, as Dan explained later, it was the one fell out of the tree had put them up to it, as that one was a personal murderer for that dead politican and jealous of Dan. I mean, seems the lawyer feller had his fingers in some other pies or the like. Anyway, it was then Wayhe saw the pus staining Dan's long hannels, as he had been fighting in his underwear and me naked in a blanket like the squawman I am. After an hour or so and he started limping again I started talking to him about finding a doctor or having me cut it out one. We tried to cut it out that day but he started remembering how much pain he had and Wayhe and I could not do it, could not hold him, and after I had another argument or two with Wayhe, I left her with plenty of food and loco weed, but I guess I did not leave her enough to hold her before I could get back, and I think maybe she was pregnant, too. I never saw her again. Dan and I found a doctor before he died of blood poisoning, though by that time Dan was long gone from his good humor. He is pretty tough and in El Paso he fought good even after his horse rolled over him.

Now, as to the way it went in El Paso. Well, I'll tell you. We will get to that story about El Paso. But I want to talk some more about the Comanches. I feel bad about Wayhe. I am not a man of much guilt, no. I don't talk too soon about bad things. Maybe I'll talk some about how we got into that Nuevo jail, but maybe I'll wait uhtil the score is settled before I talk about that. It looks like the Comanches is a score can never be settled, and I feel real bad about Wayhe. I don't think it is right for her to call me a coward. It is true I don't have the guts as some, like her brother Sanion Weith that died standing naked against his horse in the blizzard of '74. Samon Weith had got through the military operation they call Rabbit Drive, wherein by using telegraph wires the Calvery did what they could to destroy the Comanche race on their own reservation. This was to get revenge on the Comanches for all the time up till then outsmarting the dumb U.S. Army what had been all the time cheating them on the reservation and forcing the Comanche to make raids on whites for his survival, for his food, as the buffalo was by orders being wiped out, and too, the Comanches could use these raids as bargaining for more food. Samon Weith died standing up holding his bow in the '74 blizzard went through the pan handle of Texas. The Comanches are the bravest and most honorable people there has been on this earth. That is why I fought some on their side. I have some hatred for white men in general. Th U.S. Army killed the Comanche by modern weapons, starvation, telegraph wires, and any other dishonest means possible They would never accept a Commanche chalenge of single man to man combat. When they beat them with the Rabbit Drive they killed all the women and children they could and let them lay on the reservation land as they died. As them Comanche people surrendered to Fort Sill they was raped, beat on, tortured. The chief was spread eagled and whipped by some of the lowest examples of the human race this earth has ever produced. Why then they was starved some more and the chiefs left alive put in irons. This was done to the proudest race Texas has seen and will. The Comanches are the best warriors the red man has produced and it is only now they are beat the Apaches can come back into Texas, why, I guess they are the best, ask Big Bow the Kiowa that ran with them. Big Bow was the best warrior the Kiowas ever had. Big Bow made the other Kiowas nervous by never minding the making of his good medicine before he went on the warpath. Big Bow had good medicine in his nature and it was so good he did not associate with Kiowas but his Comanche friends instead. But I don't know if you can ask Big Bow or not. I know he lived through being spreadeagled and all but I have been on the run so much myself the last few years, I just don't know. I can say that my family kin is doing alright for now, but I cannot say about much else, the way all these farmers and politicians and other good-type white people are closing in on us natural-type people that scare them.

I feel bad about Wayhe. I kept her out of trouble long as I could, but she was just not reasonable. I hope her man is a good Nigger. I even hope he is man enough to put up with her. I don't expect he is, way she has made me wonder just how much of a coward I am, but you never know. Now I really know I am no coward, even if I am not too good in a losing war. The Comanches accepted Bill Olive, that is about as wild as any of those rustlers and cattle people that is the Olives in Texas, and I am not a coward. But these last years I sure am getting mean. I feel bad about Wayhe and I feel bad about many things. I am mean after Nuevo, too, because I never had men beat on me before.

When we were finished in Juarez and went over to El Paso, me, Bix, Packy, Hatch, Dan, Sieb, because we knew Tom Bowman was in trouble and we liked him, I was in what you call a peaceable mood. When I say the holiday and all had done me good, I mean I was not so tense. I had on two pistol belts of fourty-five cartridges and the pistols tied low and my bowie knife half way around on my right hip, just about like my compadres, because we were working for Packy now and were in the chips, and could have trouble at any time, and were feeling good, and had new shotguns and rifles too, because, when you are in bad territory, it feels fine to have that kind of weight on your hips, real fine, when you are good, knowing you are good, and can walk easily across the street and swing your shoulders out so that your fingers barely grease the hardware each time you step, real fine, loose, and fine, and that is just how to keep out of trouble, just how, by knowing that if there is any trouble, you are on top, especially as your compadres, they are on top there with you, some of the best, very best, guns you do know. We were in good company then, even Bix and Dan, and them two don't all the time get along unless things should get tight, and they do then, but now, even with Bix taken up with Juanita, everybody was in good company, and she had been Dan's girl. We had just finished off collecting some debts for Packy in Juarez, with trouble none, and was feeling on top, not down and poor like when we had to rob the bank in Nuevo, and didn't even feel like running anymore from that gang that wanted Packy. Paco, said I. You know I ain't hunting for no violence. Nosir, Olive, says him. That you never had to do yet. We went over to find Tom Bowman, being he was maybe about to get killed. See, seems Tom Bowman had involved the owner of The Bent Hand House of Chance And love in a game that took two nights for Tom to win The Bent House of Chance And love. So there was this little fracas during which Tom had to defend his honor by shooting the bartender with his derringer and he also hit the bartender with a chair and the last thing he did to the bartender was to sweep some jiggers of tequila off the bar onto the bartender to delay him from getting that sawed-off shotgun, and there was these three or four teamsters drinking from those jiggers and lucky for Tom Bowman they was a grabbing on him and bumping into people and causing a free for all in The Bent Hand House of chance And love and so by the time that mad bartender. could get in a clear shot with his sawed-off shotgun Tom Bowman was out of range with a pretty good start down the street, and the bartender got tired of running, being shot, shot in the head though not very direct I don't suppose, so he blasted off both barrels of his gun, of which only two pellets contacted the form in motion that was Tom Bowman the runaway Mississippi gambler, although the bartender did kill a man and badly wounded one of them teamster feller's mules. The man killed was a suspicious stranger in town that nobody could identify and so that was alrght, but those teamsters was mighty unhappy about that mule, and next the bartender had him a heat stroke, it was a hot day, though I would say the wounds inflicted on his person counted too, though people said the good doctor over in Juarez declared it a case of too much sun, when some friends to the bartender took the bartender over to Juarez and the doc, but the next thing those teamsters messed up the Bent Hand place something fierce, and in fact, since they was behind time on getting up to Santa Fe and didn't have the time to be collecting from that absent bartender, they was getting set to burn down The Bent Hand House of Chance And Love, but then that Marhall and famous man big Dallas Stoudenmire sobered up in time to stop it all just as they was lugging the kerosene. Seems some of the girls rousted Stoudenmire, which is probably true, what with most else of those destructive rascals probably wanting the bonfire and scared of the teamsters anyway. We got there just a couple of days after the bartender had mostly got things straightened out, new chairs brung in and all, and we seen that bartender and knew him for a madman, yes. He was no longer the docile and respectful feller as that day Dan ptuck a gun in his mouth, no sir, he started in hollering all about taking out his entire life's savings and hiring himself a little army to kill Tom Bowman and keep us out of his place too. I guess he had not had him a good enough audience before we came in there because he jumped up on his bar and talked with such energy he soon got to shaking new drops of blood out of his head bandages, upsetting a couple gents at the bar there drinking. We set down to a couple strategic tables and ordered pitchers of beer by one of his girls in there and heard him out. At the time there was only three of his so called little army in there and one of them went to get more and another one of them said to their boss for him to be careful of the heat now. It was a hot day again and Packy said we should drink off that cool beer and get out of there and be sniffing out old Tom, as,was only constructive, as unnecessary bloodshed was not, but that first beer was so good we had to have another round so we ordered the pitchers for refill. The bloody bartender took a break for a beer too, but like I say, he had gone insane and so he did not come off the bar but chug-a-lugged a whole pitcher of beer standing up there, and then he belched twice real loud, and it was his intermission, everybody else in there was waiting for him to go on, he must of been one of them lonely sorts that don't get too many chances for an audience, it was his big day and all you could hear there was him going bawlp, bawlp, excuse me ladies and gents now where was I, and the one that went to get more from his little army came back in with four more, and they looked cross-eyed and counted us, one, two, three, and then over at this table let's see, four, five, six, six of them here, and we have us in here, one, two, three, and so on. Naturally the bartender wanted no interruptions and ordered his boys outside to go get the rest of his litile army. You are to outnumber them at least three to one, he said, and that even then he would stand for no more bloodshed in the house itself. But this is all we can find right now, boss, said the one that talked. The bartender got very upset with that and he started in raving and ranting, because he was not a well man, like I said, must of been the effects of the derringer bullet he took in the head, and so those fellers that had come through the door went back outside to be searching out more of their fellers in the heat of the day, and when they came back through a half hour later with only enough men to maybe now be outnumbering us one and a half to one that bartender got so riled he went over backwards behind the bar with a great crash and yell. That was the last we saw of him. Everyone else in there not involved left soon as the speech was over and so there was nobody handy to be seeing to the bartender, and so there was just this part of his little army a looking us over, and us in there. I guess we looked pretty good to them because they was not ready to make any play yet and just kind of talked to one another and went around the room and Packy said we should go while we was able, that he felt sorry for the poor bartender. We all kind of felt the same way and were just about to stand make our honest departure when the doors whipped apart and here was smiling Tom Bowman all in good clothes and telling us how glad he was to be seeing us again, and we had to introduce him to Packy for old times sake and Packy said howdy, Tom, good to be seeing you again; we were just going to come and sniff you out, being as nobody in town has seen you for a few days, you are looking well, yessir. Yes, yes indeedy, said old Tom and tipped his spanking new derby at all those rough fellers in there what was paid to be hunting him down, yes, yes indeedy, I have been indisposed, but you know how it is, you can't keep a good man down long.

Now it was mainly Torn this bunch wanted, the bartender had a thousand dollars on Tom's head, and they could not afford to let us go now, take Tom away from them, but they didn't have guts to do much until two more of their members came in,one that was a bigger feller than Marshall Soudenmire or even that feller we dumped out of the window over in Juarez, and so the one among them that had done most of their talking brought up the idea to us that we all put away our guns and have the whole thing hand to hand, for less bloodshed and all. The big one among them wiped his nose and said he thought it was a real good idea and that he could whip any man in Texas himself. Tom Bowman saw what he had come into and so he told them our man could take their man, and our man was me. Wild Bill Olive is the best there is said he. Wild Bill can take any man in Texas. I am a knife man, I said, and that was a pretty big man and it would be easier to cut his belly open. I will take on any one of you fellers with Green River bowie-knife play. Naw, said the big one, No knives, tell 'im no knives, Butch. But I'm a knife man, said I. Olive, no, don't let us down now, said Dan. Olive! snarls Black Hatch. The way you put it, Olive! The way you put it on the Pecos! Olive, goddamnit, you're supposed to be the best there is, now I don't want to fight off this entire load of sonsofbitches when I can be sitting back and watch you fight with just one lousy sonofabitch, goddamn you, Olive! Calling them sonofbitches was pepper in all these boys food and there wasn't holding them too much longer, anytime then they was apt to one of them see about being first to pot-shot at old Tom in order to collect the reward, and so I said. hold on now, hold on now, no sense in everybody getting eicited now. Packy told them Wild Bill Olive could whip any man ln Texas any damn way they want to fight and that includes this fat milk-sop wiping his snot nose just the same as it includes any fat milk-sop wiping his snot nose any goddamned where. That got to this big feller, his name was Lem, about as bad as being called anything could get to him and I knew there was no getting out of taking him on so I told Packy to hold them off while I pissed and I ran and pissed quick against our side of the wall, all that beer, hot day or no, always best to piss first, and I turned around buttoning a couple of my buttons and seen the big feller lem was off with his guns and about ready to run and carry me through the wall. Wait, said I. Let's go outside. Be civiled about this. Too hot outside, said Lem. Get'im Lem, they. was saying. I handed my guns to Packy going on outside and Lem did not get to charge yet because he was watching that bowie-knife on my hip. Outside in the middle of the street with them on one end and my boys on the other end, everybody real careful and crosseyed except that my boys just get wide, wide eyed, and everybody else in town in to see a fight with bare hands, I next brought off my shirt, and stretched a little there in the sun. He looks pretty fancy, Lem, said Lem's friends said he eats fancy sorts like me for breakfast, and to be tough he took off his dirty shirt too, and I saw he was a rugged man and when I handed my knife in sheath to Packy on came Lem, real impatient. I took him by his beard and led him right into the ground and stomped hard into the back of his neck and kicked his head, but not too good on his head because boots hurt my feet and I wear moccasins, and he took my leg and damn near broke it on the same place it had been hurt by those Nuevo Mescans. I kicked out of that one and tried to not be hurt and I whomped him and wrestled him and slipped him and he was not too quick but was hitting some and got me a time or two but he had the strongest goddamned hands and the strongest goddamned drive off his legs and I quit hitting him about the head because I knew I was close to breaking my hands, except on his body that I slugged, at times just to keep on slipping around him all the time because his hands was so strong it was too damned tiring twisting them off. I kept working at it, I outstepped him once and kicked for his crotch on the way past but did not get him, then on top his back got his neck, and with my knee thought to try breaking his back and he got his chin down and breathed and I was too tired and he got away. Then everybody wanted us to have a rest. His friends was sure he could catch me if he got a rest and my friends was sure I would find a way to fix him if I got in a rest. My friends was right on that. I needed to relax a little minute and I saw Lem was bleeding pretty good in the face. Lem took a good swallow of whiskey and I did not, just wanting to be loose. Lem come at me this time more slow and I saw he had taken the advice and I moved in hard and jumped my head into that big face of his and his arms went round me tight and I spun him and jammed thumbs in his armpit veins and went against his eyes with my head and he lifted me and slammed me on the ground and I went loose and then jerked onto my stomach and I think he had hit me with his had but I got a lock on his neck and flipped him on his back and chopped his throat and we come up and I hung a hand into his throat again and slugged him about as hard as I ever hit a man and he dropped on his hands and knees and came right back up in a flash that knocked me over in some way and I had to go on moving under his boots, which was his mistake for not getting back on top of me with his weight and the next thing we was both on our feet again, and real tired. So it was time for us to have a rest again. It don't take long like that, especially with someone that heavy and I guess he weighed about two hundred and fifty and he had impressed me for being able to take more punishment than any man I ever saw, and Bix was so emotional he was not reasonable, wanted to take my place for awhile. He was so unreasonable it was taking the entire efforts of his compadres to talk and keep him down by now. Hatch later said he was not so sure at that point I could whip Lem now but he had to keep telling Bix how I was winning all the way. Lem can't last much longer, Bix, the compadres was saying. If you jump in now it won't be fair, Bix! Olive is cutting him to pieces; Bix! Look at all that blood corning from Lem, just look at it all, Bix! The man will drop from loss of blood any time now, Bix! The boys was getting more and more excited, jumping around and waving and pointing over at Lem for Bix. They was by then more worried about Bix than they was me, and I think they put some kind of spell on poor old Lem over there that was having another swallow of whiskey and wiping the gore off his eyes and seeing this pack of savages blood hungry and pointing him out for Bix just as if Lem was some kind of animal Bix had never seen before. Then Sieb, that was fired up and about as crazy as Bix, told Bix how I was going to finish Lem off the next go and that was a promise. It was Sieb's promise, not by me, I was so tired, but Sieb was so loud over all that gigantic crowd out there which was still getting bigger, all kinds of fools trying to get past my compadres to give their advice to me, and Sieb pulls his guns and screams for every body to jump back, and they all jumped back off our end, and Sieb was near out of his head on how this next go I finishes Lem, Wild Bill has this to say to all you poor folk, this is the last go, the one wherein he does old Lem for good because we don't got all the livelong day just to be entertainment for the entire town of El Paso, and Sieb commenced to fire into the air. I tell you, it was Sieb put the spell into Lem, even with all Lem's boys shaking their fists and cussing us and starting themselves to shoot in the air. Bix got quiet and fierce and believing in me now, and Hatch later said this was when he started knowing in his bones how I was going to do it this time. Hatch had put his arm around Bix saying I was going to do it this time, I had just been warming up till now. Packy was the next one going out of his head, and he wanted to give his raving speech and was trying to get it in edgewise with Sieb, but there wasn't time, old Lem was pushed out into the fight area, where was his blood all in the dirt of that street, and Dan wanted me to give my war whoop but I was too tired, and Bowman said he was right in there with me the whole way and knew I was the best there is and could do it this time, and by then I knew this was the last round too, that I was going to do it, so wasn't worried about spending the rest of my energy that round. Lem was slowed down and not taking care of himself and soon as he wiped at his eyes I bore in on my tired legs and hit his stomach good and tossed him off me and used my fists in his eyes and stepped back and stove in some of his end of rib cage with my foot. Then I had to pretend I was not crippled from standing on my Nuevo leg and as Lem went arms wild and high for his last desperate lunge I just dropped into his legs and let him fall over he blind into the dust. I knew that was it and got up and left poor old Lem choking and sobbing and trying to clear his eyes and I said walking straight as I could give me my hardware Packy, fast. Sieb was loading back up and I was strapping back on and trying to look victorious and we made a path to the rails in front of The Bent Hand where stood our mounts with rifles and two double barreled shot guns and everything was still in order with our mounts and I said help me, Bix, help me, and Bix gave me a push up my horse just as the lead begin to fly. There were all kinds of people diving and running and leaping and falling and I had a shotgun and sprayed it at men with guns if they were not my friends and in the confusion had lost that shotgun by the time Dan had his horse killed and rolled over him and Bix had busted open his side wound again riding by and grabbing Dan off the ground. Bowman had bought this big white stud and was doing alright riding with us and shooting a pearl-handled six gun at his enemies and I remember as we rode out of there there was three or four men. laying this and that way out in the main street of El Paso and I wouldn't wager to say how many we killed then but on crossing the river for Juarez again we understood we was still being pursued so Hatch said he was going to hide on our side of the river and get him some with his new rifle if we would be so kind as to keep going on up the ridge to keep their bunch unsuspecting. It all happened to fast and I knew Hatch could make out and especially as old Dan McConchie screaming that his bone was broke none at all insisted in staying there with Black Hatch end getting to try out his new rifle too, so me and Sieb and Tom Bowman and happy Bix minding not a whit about his old wound went and trotted on up the ridge just as Hatch and Dan had slapped their horses to see them moving with the dusty herd of us and then was running to belly down on the banks with their guns and that El Paso crowd was organised and catching up and seeing us and we could hear some rifle bullets from their side smacking the ground at us. I knew something was wrong and about the time Hatch and Dan let them have it I realized Packy was not there. Gunter! I said, where is Gunter! Confusion was heavy and we all have bad eyes cept for maybe Tom but Bix pointed out, is that him! It sure did beat all but here was Gunter still in town about a mile back taking that bunch from the rear, riding into all two dozen of them with both his forty-fives thundering and I swear even from where I was up there I could make out him yelling past the reins in his big teeth. They was more than we had expected but the bad part of it was the two rifles on the kill going off that bank into Packy's path what he was cutting so gloriously through the mob so we whipped on back down to tell Hatch and Dan and then my horse broke his leg and I took the spill off him fast enough and saw him tumbling breaking his neck almost on top of Hatch and Dan and then Sieb lost his in either the same way or else maybe a rifle bullet and tried to miss some cactus but his horse bumped over mine and Sieb did not miss the cactus that day, and Hatch had disclosed his position by having a look at the commotion behind him and he got accidentally nicked, and Dan kept on knocking those fellers off, couple of them shooting back from the ground by then and hungry Dan was getting those two as Bix splashed on by him trying to explain about Gunter. Goddamn, Black Hatch gripping his bleeding neck tossed his rifle at Tom that was just getting his white horse into a circle and I ran on out into the river, heard Hatch, try this, Tom, I'm hit bad! Bowman never caught the rifle but had got down with it behind the dead horses and commenced to add to the confusion of that other bunch and I had shucked my gun belts and swum the river with my bowie, had lost the pistols up the hill anyway, and by the time I got to the other side I was played out, and the fight was over anyway except for those two on their horses in a complete panic not even knowing which way they was headed until I made a swipe at them with my knife In a kind of bluff what convinced them to wheel around and go the other way, which was El Paso. Then Packy rode up clammering how he had saved the day and Dan said later the only reason he did not fire on him at that point was because he had to reload. I could not longer stand with my leg swelling up to my back and by and by I said to him well, maybe he saved the day, except that since nobody but him knew he was going to save the day we now had most everybody wounded. Goddamn, Olive, he said, can't a man even think for himself, that's what's wrong with all you boys, not enough individual action, and here we was supposed to be working for him, too, he said. I was too beat up to talk about it and Bix got another horse for me and got me back up on it before he even remembered he was still losing blood. There was a lot more talk and some other things that happened but it is really not important. I was sort of passing out off and on and mainly I can remember Hatch cussing and how Sieb was hollering and having some kind of fit.

We had had our fill. It was back to see Juanita and our old friend The Doc.

Back to menu / Back to chapter 4 / Chapter 6