Chapter Seven

(Of Man and Wolf) The Ride Down

THE RIDE DOWN

Well. Where did we leave off here. I was in Juarez about a year or two. Dave, pass it this way. Your damned brother and I did go down in the damned jungle. Now why did we do that? Yeah, yeah, I came in this night and he and Senora Gutierrez was drunk silly and stripped naked and doing the hat dance. She was always getting too motherly and possessive anyway but it was the principle of the entire thing that bothered me about it more than anything else did. And you don't blame Dan for something like that because even if he had never gone crazy by then anyway it ain't going to surprise you if he gets your woman on a drunk to do the hat dance or the rain dance. Yeah, well, Dave, and he says let's go down to the jungle and she says to beat her up and I says don't bother me I am going to bed and think on it. Truth about it then was I was gut full of tequila myself and I guess they went on dancing because I know restless as I had got why Dan had been that way for months and had tumed crazy trying to get some compadre to accompany him down in the jungle. It was these peyote visions he kept having all about the jungle and the lost cities and hidden treasures. Why, he had a whole empire built up down there with sparkling rubies and emeralds and exotic herbs and perfumes, and exotica dancing maidens, and royal banquets we was to be invited to, and he had gone plumb out of his mind with how wonderful it was and how much they was gomg to love us down there in those lost cities. I would tell'im, why, Dan, we got most of that up here anyway, and he sould say, no, no, you're wrong on that one, Bill, we don't and Hatch would tell'im, look, Dan, you got it all up here just so long as you keep eating that peyote, so why don't you just save yourself some riding, and Dan would get lighting mad and holler that nobody understood him anymore and we had him all wrong because he was damned certain that these cities was all waiting for us down there in the jungle. Like I say, we were getting us a pretty good station going from Juarez but only having to stand on our toes with all those good folks closing in, well, we was hell bent, I tried to live out on the mountain with Senora Gutierrez and a store of weed except there wasn't nothing for the poor woman to do out there except become a sheer nymphomaniac, I mean, it did not matter how many times a hour or a day I was mounting her it got to it was only mattering how many times I was not mounting her a hour or a day and I never saw nothing like it because pretty soon little as there was for her to do out there she got where she did not have time to do nothing and I was doing my own cooking if I wanted to eat food cooked, and so I took to taking in my meat raw, trying to get more strength down me, and there wasn't much time to get the deer and there wasn't much time to be meditating either, guess it was all cause she'd lived her entire thirty-five or forty years in the town with everybody else running all around and she just wasn't used to seeing that much real natural life and it scared her and put her into a aphrodisiacal spell like I never saw in my whole life and I ain't just purely and exactly no superman, but, well, that came later. Now where was I? Yeah, well, before we got anything else done, I did obligate to travel clear down to the Texas Coast and see my poor old mom and tell her I had stayed out of trouble, Kelly was getting real forcible on this matter, one day even challenging me to a wrestling match, he was weighing more than two hundred pounds from breathing Senor Acosta's linest and was starting to push on me, was feeling pretty frisky and would start pushing me and say, com'on, Bill, we're going back and see our poor old mom, and our poor dad, and my poor little wife and see what my baby looks like and I don't even know what it came out as. Jaime would say, no, no, Kelly, I'm having too much fun up here, wait till these special plants are grown so we can see what it is like to bring my father's finest up out of the mountain country. Hatch was happy to see Kelly pushing me around and after a week or so of it I thought maybe my back was set enough to fend him off in the wrestling match and so I accepted. Well as I remember on it I couldn't handle him too good and he hurt my back again. Then for fun Hatch took'im on and Hatch actually did a little better than I did but got beat too. Then Kelly kept getting more and more frisky from all the energy he'd been storing on Senor Acosta's finest and he had to go down the line with challenges to my whole goddamned gang and finally Packy was the one to accept, and damned if Packy actually didn't put up a good show, maybe even a little better than Hatch did, so Hatch had to challenge Gunter and Gunter laughed it off, said he always hated to step out of his class, made old Hatch mad and running and pouncing on Gunter and they had knocked apart Senora Gutierrez's chicken coop and she had been dressing for church and came running out half naked and screaming and kicking them and digging her claws into them, and she never got to church that Sunday, and I sat there making my decision because my back would do for careful riding and it was going to take all of next week to calm down Senora Gutierrez from missing mass so why not take a vacation and ride on down and see my poor old mom. It was a cool good morning and a good time to ride and I could sleep and straighten my back on the trail.

It was me and Kelly and Jaime that thought maybe he ought to go see his poor old mom for a change too and Hatch with his idea of finding a good white woman and getting married and Dan. Dan was already talking about the magic cities then and that was when we had only been in Juarez three or four months or just about long enough to see everybody healing up except for me and he said he would go down with us for the ride but that just as soon as he could talk some sense into somebody to come with him to go down and find the lost cities that is what he would do. Meanwhile, Packy Gunter Inc. had been climbing back to its feet, even as Packy couldn't show his face on the Texas side of the river and it was going to be less wheeling dealing and more civilized corporation or less murder and plunder any way you look at it, we had decided, and we had sneaked a few cattle this way and then a few back across to keep it even, even sneaked a few horses as it was too easy, and during those months some of this and some of that with our bodies healing, met some Apaches then, we had this operation using Bix, he would get a stagecoach ticket from San Antonio and at a given point do some sabotage on the stagecoach, shoot a horse or mess up a wheel at night or something, but it was hell getting the Apaches to be punctual, in fact, it ain't possible, and he said it was sheer hell sitting there for a day or two while everybody ran about getting it fixed, and it rained once, and then just as they would get rolling again here would come a few Apaches so he would shoot a horse and maybe a guard or two and break for it scrambling and diving through the sage brush or mesquite or whatever was growing and hoping to God these was Apaches what had got the right information, and then the Apaches would be running back and forth harrassing the guard until they get more people in and the guard ~ould be charging across the countryside and Bix would bite the dust and try to get buried when the guard roared on by and when the Apaches whooped on by he would be up and grinning and waving his shkt and over the din trying to say, Me Packy, Me Packy, and the second trip this went on he found he was no longer yelling Me Packy but was yelling, Me part Cherokee, none of which the Apaches understood, and the Apaches would by and by get more people drifting in and in a day or two get the guard that did not run off bottled around the stagecoach and then it might take a couple of days for the Apaches to get them all killed so for Bix to get the strongbox, and give them half, and by then he would of familiarised somewhat with the Apaches, promising them Packy Gunter Inc. would next be bringing them rifles and things for the rest of the loot, and they would let him have a horse and take him and the strongbox down to El Rio Grande somewhere and there he would be dodging Texas Rangers till a couple of us could catch him and lighten the load, and then he would need at least a week with sweet Juanita to get his strength back before he could go ride clear back up to San Antonio and talking Packy Gunter to all these Apaches along the way, and get on the stage and do the whole thing all over again, and one time Mescan bandidos near got the stage fore his Apache partners did, that was the third and last time he did this, after the two successful times we did this thing they caught him one night messing with the wheels and started to hang him right then but lucky there was a lady aboard so just roped him to the back-side of the coach and were going to see him roast in the sun the entire distance and if he still lived when they got in give him a fair trial first, but lucky for Bix it was that very next day around eleven o'clock according to the sun when those bandido rascals ambushed with the stagecoach going down a hill and in the big melee the stagecoach fell on top its side and Bix damned near choked to death getting the ropes off him, and he staggered out into the thicket and met his Apaches what was coming right on schedule as a coincidence and he was half crazed with thirst and, these was unregular, jolly Apaches, and they counted coup on him whilst he gargled Packy Gunter and Cherokee and they counted coup on the bandidos in the dust, and banged some coup dn the stagecoach guard, who must had thought it was a big rescue by the Texas Rangers, before everybody started shooting at one another again and a couple of the Apaches could recognise Bix under the state he was in, and then they was all happy with how the bandidos was so mad and the way the stupid stagecoach was laying over on its side-now there was talk the stagecoach was lifted back up on its wheels and even got to El Paso with most the folks alive but I can't vouch for that myself less it was maybe the bandidos ran out of their bullets and Bix was took into a camp for a antelope feast and antelope dance or something or other but Bix says he was not really in much shape to tell what was going on for a couple of days. He liked the Apaches and how he was making so many new friends but says sabotaging the stagecoach was the roughest work he had ever done in his lifetime, and you got to ad-mit Bix is tough, and we all voted for Packy to give him a year's vaca-fion with double pay and Packy give it to'im though double pay was just a idea of a civilised corporation and Bix just kept spending like everybody else. Like I say, we was wanting to bend with the times, and times was getting tricky for natural men, the railroad was almost to El Paso and fences was getting built and laws was getting made and towns was bloating out with fellers gone all grey skinned and squinty eyed and Packy was hoping for us to get Miguel, deals faro. We still had aims on The Bent Hand House Of Chance And Love, hell, it belonged to Bowman, he won it. Packy wanted Miguel (Deals Faro) Olive, and, as we all had started out, me, Kelly, Jaime, Dan, Hatch, a late start, toward sundown, had lost that morning to planning and siesta, once again everybody merry with Jane, Dan his head filled up with magic cities because he had seen so much peyote to it to never mind if he never saw no more or ever, old Black Hatch and me started trailing behind the others because we was talking. Dan was talking, up trail talking to Kelly and Jaime about magic cities, but me and Hatch was talking real sober. WeIp, spoke Hatch. Bix damn near got his. That is true, Hatch. But ex-cept, Hatch, he had this good plan for at high noon having convulsions and epileptic seizures and was going to horrify the lady aboard so to win her sympathy in order for them to at least give him water and let him take the ride on his arse like everybody else being as how he was getting hung in El Paso anyway, and so we could all come busting in the night before the big event on a huge scale surprise attack and I was going to kill old Marshall Stoudenmire, and even a couple days before that I was going to come in because there ain't exactly nothing too definite on Wild Bill except for disrespect, and I was going to suit old Marshall Stoudenmire's fiercest nightmares and challenge him to bare hands, fisticuffs or just plain rough and tumble, and bust him up real line, stomp all over his fingers so he can't shoot, and that would demoralize the entire town and total police force and when two nights later we come howling and springing and leaving The Bent Hand House Of Chance And Love full of horse shit whilst Danny blows out the roof of the jail with dynamite, and Bix waiting under his cot naturally, we would have spare opposition and so burn that fucking jail down and El Paso could of never been the same after that. But, shit, those goddamn bandidoes went and fucked the whole affair up for us. Hell, Olive, the jail in El Paso is made from adobe. Well, but he would be under his cot, Hatch. Thing of it is, now, Olive, you fellers will have to learn to do things in a different way if you are going to survive in the Christian world. You fellers? Goddamn, Hatch, so I guess you're going to marry yourself a good Christian white woman and settle down to a life of decency. That's right, yep. Hatch, why can't you marry a good Christian brown woman and at least live where you can see your old compadres every now and then. Wild Bill, if I don't get away from you fellers right now I ain't never going to get away long enough to save my soul. I am going to Louisiana or maybe Missouri. And you're going to grow potatoes. Um, potatoes? We all, I don't know that I am going to grow any potatoes. But I am going to raise me some kids. Hell, Hatch, I expect you got a few of those. I don't mean bastards, Olive, you sonofabitch. I aim to raise me some kids in a atmosphere of moral decency. Yeah, Hatch, why I bet you are going to raise yourself some kids what are going to grow up clean. Goddamn you, Olive. May God burn your black soul, Olive. Naw, Hatch, God won't do that. He already has somebody to do the dirty work for him. Why you blasphemous squawman. I know what I am going to do now. I am going to become a U.S. Marshall and I am going to see that ten thousand gets put on your head for blasphemy and lack of respect of civilization. Hatch, you're going to have a bunch of kids squinty eyes and tight at the corners of their mouths and with gray skin, and the girls will be dry and stiff as boards and the boys will all be jittery little fellers what will sneak out to the outhouse to drink whiskey on Sunday afternoons. Alright, Olive, alright, stop right there, you just talked me out of it. Well, you did put up a good defense, Hatch, but, you know, it's for your own good. Yes, Olive, your stand is infallible. But you see this scar bleeding on my neck ever since your brother slapped it this morning. And I got a couple of more. I am getting out of this gang and going where I~ain't heard of. Hatch, you're a tough man, nobody ever doubts that. I am the toughest in the gang, Bill, but also the smartest. Whether that is all completely true or not, Richard, you're going down with the rest of us. Goddamn you, Olive. Hatch, you may be getting old. Goddamn you, Olive. Wait a minute, Hatch. I say, now you might be getting old, or crippled, but. Airight, alright, Olive, I got thirst in my throat and hunger in my mmd. I got wild blood, I got good teeth. I got white in my eyes, I got moss in my beard. You got a heart of peyote, that's how I want you to talk, Hatch. But, Olive, I can try! I am going to try. You'll never make it, Hatch. Which is why we need to stick together and get more personnel into El Paso before the railraod gets here. We got to make a stand. O.K., Olive, so what is Miguel going to do for us? Why, he will deal faro, Hatch. Now where is he going to deal this faro? Now, Hatch, he will deal faro in The Bent Hand House Of Chance And Love. What if The Bent Hand House Of Chance And Love does not need a faro dealer? Then we will see they do. What is Miguel going to do when he deals faro in The Bent Hand House Of Chance And Love? We will work that out when we get there. Welp, I wish you fellers plenty of luck. Thanks, Hatch. We'll never forget you. Now someone else we need up here is Old Dave. Old Dave? Why is that, Olive? Old Dave has special talents, Hatch. What special talents does that sneaky sonofabitch have, Olive?

Yes, those were his words, called you a sneaky sonofabitch, but afterall, Dave, only because it is true. I said to 'im, why, Old Dave is sneaky, Hatch, and he has a good inner ear. Hell, said Hatch, Old Dave is just the one always gets someone else to do it for him, is all. Yes, I agreed, Old Dave is the one that gets someone else to do it for him. Old Dave is a survivor, Hatch. Well, yes, why I guess he is, and I guess if I could get someone else to do it for me I would be a survivor, too. Why, yes, Hatch, I guess you are right on that one. Goddamn you, Olive.

We could hear Jaime and Danny having a argument up ahead, and then Kelly came running back to tell us someone was after us. We was moving along side this mountain and looked out over a big drop and I could not see where was anybody after us but one thing on my youngest brother is dependability sober of his body or no. He is another survivor. Without waiting Hatch moved up to settle the argument because he knows him too. I stopped and looked around. Why is that, Kelly? It was close to night by now. Well, he said. For a hour I had this ideal I was smelling tobaccy smoke. Then my horse smelled them too. Smart horse you got there, Kelly. Yeah, she hates bloodshed. Where do you think they are? They are above us and they are coming down to get on this ridge. They are coming in ahead of us but one or two might be coming in behind if they can find a way but I ain't sure of that. Well, that makes sense, if they got anybody good enough. Why do you think they're doing this, Wild Bill? Dunno, ain't nothing very definite on anybody cept Packy and Sieb, less somebody got with the Mescans to prove the jail break or something else but how many are up there? I dunno, they sure been making me nervous, being that quiet. Well, let's get some killing in. Alright, Wild Bill, I'll run up to tell Jaime and Dan. Right, then come catch me for I'm gonna get these couple coming in behind. Right, Wild Bill. I went back but climbed the horse all I could and could see it sure was a hard place to light in and when I heard a couple horses trying to come down I got off and tied mine quick and then ran in low and quiet till of a sudden I was low and behind these two horses but thing of it was I knew the main bunch was still too close but when the two was in a hard spot I come in like a weasel damn near on my hands and knees and up before they knew it and knife and six gun I disembowled a horse and give a war whoop mainly to let Kelly know what I was up to, and even with horse and man screaming and rolling and smashing I heard Kelly's split second following whoop just as the other feller and I was firing. Other feller had chance none with his horse wanting to skedaddle and then this second man and horse went rolling and smashing and screaming. I scurried and slid and scampered to my horse because way it was the main bunch had too hard a time coming in front of us and hearing the light made a decision to come all of them down this other way, and so had Dan and Hatch and Jaime as I expected rather than come to the ambush, and it was all some kind of tricky situation like we mostly manage somehow to do O.K. in and Kelly come under and on past these other people before they knew who he was and I reached Kelly just as he ambushed them and he used his rifle getting anycase two horses and we took off delicate as we could down the mountain for now Dan, Hatch, Jaime was into'em. Jaime was first, wanting to catch his partner Kelly, that was catching me, cause it's best in these situations you work with your closest partner or brother cause you know his patterns and so make less mistake, and Jaime had come in so damned close to them before' he exactly knew it they must had figured him one of theirs and he clubbed a couple partners out of their saddles and he trampled another of them what was on the ground over a dying horse-man digging his rifle out says Jaime and says he has the whole picture-and that bunch was gone so precarious and panic struck and horses breaking their legs that old Hatch and Dan took a dis-mount and settled back and turned their rifles on them, and now Kelly and me was turning to see old Jaime catching up, and that is how we got separated, me, Kelly, Jaime, laughing some and stepping real careful down this piece of hill, and we was in the valley by dawn, had not talked but with sun coming we smoked and relaxed and felt good. Just as well, I decided. Times getting dangerous as they are. We will see Dan and Hatch down on the coast which is familiar territory. And, you know, nobody ever did find who those men were. But there had been more than a dozen and Hatch and Dan got at least half that anyway. They knew who we were.

We moseyed on to the flatter country, keeping a watch, sniffing the wind, moving wide around towns, sometimes even coming to fences. It sure did bother me. Sometimes I would lag behind all day just smoking and where I could listen to people I knew. I could listen to old Dan talking to Hatch about magic cities so I knew they were doing good, Dan had some hair singed, where, as he put it, one of those sonofabitches started firing wild. I could listen to Mother so I would let her know I still had stayed out of trouble. Our old man always knew I could always get by the trouble over the long range and he never worried about it. Even as he had taken it to his mind to settle with the forces of majority in this great land. I was hurting for Texas bad. We could go days in good country and of a sudden here would be a new town making me feel strange. Here I had spent much of fifteen years running with Comanches or just by myself eating buffalo, those these last several more and more with my old desperate Texas Coast gang, and now the buffalo was wiped out and too the Comanches and there was of a consequence a few little gangs of Apaches in western Texas but you had more riders than ever before, whiskey drinkers, cowboys, gangs of men looking and too young to know they was looking and what for, with talk about gun lighting and this and that bad man. And who did the killing? Me. Gone near crazy with it. Did they talk about me? Not too much. No. They did not see me too much. Some thought they killed me with the Comanches. One evening I had fallen a few miles behind Kelly and Jaime and come up seeing them drinking at a camp fire with seven other fellers. Kelly has a rough look, as much fur as me, and Jaime is just more neat, but they was getting along with these fellers and I could hear these fellers asking Kelly and Jaime who the hell is that maybe because all I had on was my pants and when I came in a little closer they saw I was brother to Kelly and they got polite. I put on my moccasins before I dropped off my horse and they did not want to mess with us. I said, howdy, gentlemen. I see you got some hot java going there. There was a feller named Curly, fat and had a short beard and curly hair, a little older than the rest and he was cheerful. How bout some beans, he said to me. We had not ate since the day before when we rested and ate most of a deer but we was getting hungry and ate some beans and corn pone and then Curly found three bottles of whiskey because he wanted the talk to loosen up. It almost hurt Kelly's feelings because he had figured he was talking pretty good but Jaime doesn't like coffee but he likes whiskey so now he started talking real sociable. They had been trying to tell us how they was train robbers, see. But now Jaime started talking about his gal back home. I could see Curly had good humor and knew I knew. After a time he said to me, what's your name, partner, and then he went apologetic. I am Wild Bill Olive, I said, You never heard of me. Well, he said. Some years back a Wild Brn something or other went and took the rough and tumble title of Texas and then he retired. Then they killed him with the Comanches in the Rabbit Drive, or was that somebody else? Naw, I left way before the Rabbit Drive and my woman never forgave. What have you been doing, Wild Bill? Stayed out of trouble, Curly. Then it was one of these boys was jealous and sad about Jaime's gal back home and preferring to talk about robbing trains and he said something wrong and they rose together but Jaime got him hard in his testicals. Everybody stood and spread out except Curly. I waited till he stood and I shook his hand and said, nice talking, Curly. He was sad and said, the same, Wild Bill. We hit the Texas Coast close to the mouth of El Rio Grande and there had Hatch and Dan been waiting on us. We're out of weed, Dan said. Jaime never passed my sack back before the fun. We were going to take Jacob's ferry to Padre Island and walk the hundred miles up Padre to where the Brownrats fished. Jacob was a old Nigger and a friend and he and his brother Coonhound poled this raft over to Padre Island. They had better business than the raft in some women so it was necessary most of the time to wait on them as they did business with fishermen. Winter was coming and the first light norther blowing our beards. We built a fire and sat in our blankets and roasted some cottontail. There was moon up and we remembered the last time we had a party with Jacob and Coonhound and Coonhound kept bothering Hatch about his name and it was a real wet norther and they went outside to settle it and first Coonhound came back in to report how strong the current was and how Hatch got carried off into the Gulf of Mexico-they had rolled into the tide and none of us believed it because Hatch is a pirate and can't be killed in water, and so then Hatch came in and says, hey, Coonhound, why it sure is good to see you, boy, why I was certain you had drowned out there. Then they went out to finish the fight but it was a miserable night out and they got tired of it and came back in, vowing to see it through in better weather. Whereas Jacob was a peaceable sort and getting into years anyway, none of the fishermen disres-pected their business because if you were unfamiliar with Coonhound he could go crazy in a second, and he was decent with a rifle but if you want to know his character then he was real good with a hatchet and a shotgun. Too, there was about as much business from a bunch of Mescan fishermen, meaning some lent their sisters out and brung in tequila and weed and so on and they carried nothing against Coonhound. Most the women was Mescan though they was a couple black and one white. Maggie the white was maybe the most interesting under the aspect that she believed Satan had stole her soul. She was a young red headed Scorpion from St. Louis and said her own father had defiled her. The bordello was a bunch of shacks and held anywhere from six to ten girls depending on how it went. Maggie never left because she was unfit for the educated world and had these spells and sometimes conducted withcraft. She had some schooling but was still unfit. She was kind of in love with Black Hatch and this may be something to do with the trouble Hatch would have with Coonhound, that was another Scorpion. Coonhound had no birthday but he had to be a Scorpion. Coonhound was like Hatch in some ways and Maggie had started out in love with him. Now, this ain't too much here nor there, we got over there somehow, Padre Island. There was not intention of a lot of delay in this bawdy area because that was not what we had coine for and times had changed and we had things to do. I am just saying there was no excuse for us getting into all that delay at the Padre Island whore shacks because we all knew Maggie and she knew us and we was all familiar there and just wanted to get on our way. We was not even too especially homey, cept Dan, natu-rally, because I still had horse blood in my hair and torn pants and both knees still more or less skinned up, because a little killing can stay with you and here we had afterwards traveled clear down across Texas to the Gulf of Mexico and all of it dangerous country long the way, and blood hist was up. A little killing goes a long way when you ride clear around other men in dangerous country the whole way to the Gulf of Mexico and not too sure the men you killed was not part of some man's small army and corning after you. Now, least ways, this is what man killing does to me, and we all had our blood up, and wanted to see the ocean and we wanted to get on home to rest and see women that we knew. Now, for certain, that sparkling and big foaming Gulf of Mexico was just beautiful to beat all and made grown men weep from pure love. It was so goddamned wonderful and lovely and big and happy to see us poor Texas Coast boys that Dan had to have a peyote attack right on the spot. Of course, he had had a few along the way but when you saw him go into this one you knew his blood was up like yours O.K. but it was green blood and he was never going to be just a normal Scorpion again ever. He was so fierce about jerking off his clothes that he fell down and wallowed about in the sand before he could get naked and dash at our Gulf of Mexico hollering things about Wet Mother Of The Gods and I swear he had a hard on right then and you could see him dancing and falling and leaping through the waves on until he disap-peared. Well, said Hatch. When I go, that's how I want to go, too. But none was more impressed than was Maggie. He has made a pact with Satan, she said. Danny has become a devil. Ain't nothing new bout that, said Hatch. Then Maggie starting wailing and beating her thighs just like a banshee. There, there, Maggie girl, said Hatch. Ain't that bad, girl. But Hatch got to'er too late and Dan was her new love. These whore shacks was built behind the sand hills case of a hurricane, which was going to wipe them out anyway, and rising tides from near miss hurricanes and Maggie had by her usual crush on Black Hatch followed us to the beach and we stood and bathed and floated and waited for Dan in these waves and Hatch comforted the poor girl in what was probably genuine sympathy even as of course he understood she had just witnessed the most thrilling experience of her life, and then after three four hours we walked back to the shacks. During that night we was laying around and smoking with Jacob and Coonhound and talking and sleeping and you could always wake up and hear one of them telling us what they had been doing or one of us telling them what we had been doing and about the third time I woke up and everybody was sleeping except for old Jacob that was talking all of a suden Maggie, that had been over in her cabin by herself chanting all night long, quit the chant-ing. It was the middle of the night somewhere and we had already suffered plenty complaints and interruptions from a bunch of superstitious fishermen what had come in that evening to do some fornicating. That silence was so sudden that Jacob stopped with it and I heard a feller in a cabin near us thank God, and two more say amen. Then you had Dan yelling, Whoa! Whoa! Down, woman, down! Get back, damn you! It is not a likely thing for him to refuse but here as he later bragged about he had swum twenty and walked twenty and he was so hungry he was truly skeptical he could gather the strength to throw a decent charge and if he did that he might come down with the flu so seeing the situation, how he was her hero demon and all, he thought quick and said meat. Meat, woman, meat! There wasn't any meat around at that time but there was fowl because a couple of the gals was raising turkeys and here in the middle of the night went Maggie into the turkey shed and stirring up ten mad turkeys and catching a big gobbler by the throat and in and out of him with a butcher knife and woke the entire community and women was running around with lanterns and then two naked fishermen went at each other with fists over God alone knew what for and naked Maggie waved that big blood gushing gobbler with one arm and her knife in her other hand and you had all these naked people running back and forth with raves and curses and every kind of blasphemy that it sure looked like the din from hell. Dan was hungry and kept yelling to them all to get back. One old fishermen came out with a banjo and a big jug of wine and he set the mood a little more cheerful. One of the gals what owned the turkeys was so gone from her mind and mad at Maggie she started kicking boards loose from her turkey shack and that started the bonfire, seems some-one threw coals on the turkey shack or broke a lantern or did something and Coonhound had to smash it down with a ax to keep the fire from spreading and the fishermen took to pursuing turkeys and this big litter of wolf dogs Coonhound had went with them and the two girls owning the turkeys went and grabbed most of the fishermen's clothes and ran away, because of the money that was in the clothes, see, they normally treated the fishermen better than that, but with all us there they was braver and besides a big party had started up and a lot of wine was being drunk, and turkeys would get their heads lopped off and their guts pulled out and then be tossed kicking on the fire in their feathers and soon as the feathers singed completely off good enough they would be knocked back out of the fire and pulled apart and fought over and Coonhound's big litter of wolf dogs got their share too and killed some turkeys though Coonhound made'em give 'em up for roasting and by the time dawn came in and visibility increased the last turkey was roasting. Now, this much of it did not go on too awful long. By next evening most the fishermen was damned mad and talking they would be back with guns soon as they had clothing for their naked backs. Jacob had hid the guns they had along. There was eleven fishermen and poor loosers all of them and they went back to their boats or wherever they had come from. But Dan and Maggie had taken their roasted turkey and left the party soon as it started and holed up in Maggie's shack and not come out even to pee because they was casting spells and communicating with evil spirits. What are you doing in there, Dan, we called out. Maggie was burning things in her hearth and strange smells was coming out her smokestack which was off somebody's boat and she had too a big hearth in there because Dan must had been using a blanket or something because we begin to get these smoke signals and what's more the smoke signals was in orange and green and purple. All along we heard Maggie murmuring incantations but now we had these orange and green and purple smoke signals Dan come in long side her with Ya, Ya, Ya Ya Ya, Ya, Ya, Ya Ya Ya Hi Ya, Ya Ya Ya Hi Ya, Ya Ya Ya. It was a little bit weird. Come on out of there, Dan, we would call out. We want to go home. He kept giving us these gigantic billowing puffs of orange and green and purple smoke till sometime after dark and it stunk like hell. Jacob and Coonhound wasn't too impressed because Maggie had grown to doing more magic than she did whoring and they told us~ the whole past ten days she had been up to nothing else but this unusual phenomena and we ought to think nothing of it. But what about Dan, we said. How are we going to get him out of there? Wait till Maggie runs out of materials, Jacob said: Then she have to go back to work, he said. Jacob told us she took her materials off some Mescan fishermen in trade, all kinds of exotic materials which she never re-vealed to nobody else, seems these Mescan fishermen respected her work and had connections. But don't go messing with her till she's done, Jacob and Coonhound warned us. She dangerous. This meant sit there and entertain our minds with business for Jacob and Coonhound, whilst Dan did the entertaining for us and his self his way. Maggie was the only gal there Jacob and Coonhound didn't bother much about the rent and she was kind of a main attraction anyway with her the only whorewitch there and now there was five of these gals parading and acting up because with the recent events the profits had all been made by the two what had the turkeys and took off with the loot and never come back. We was not carrying a whole lot of money but we give them some to relax their natures and they cooked for us and smoked with us and swum with us and messed around with us and everybody begun to get kind of relaxed except for maybe me. Maggie's cabin had settled down to every now and then a shreik or a moan and the six big watch dogs half wolf and half hound Coonhound kept was howling a little more than they should if it was normal and the horses we had staked was a little restless and I was fooling with a relationship I took on with this gal Mina that I knew and that black gal, Shannon, that was some kind of cousin to Jacob and Coonhound and a individual gal in that she was not one of these five whores like Mina that we had there then but she did chores about the place and sometimes did some fishing with her mother that lived on the mainland somewhere that took care of two or three kids Shannon had beared. Shannon was a tall and broad and thin kind of woman and strong as a man with these big hands and had turned real careful about getting pregnant again but she had some big strong breasts in spite of her lean tendencies and it was a hot wet night cause a big norther was going to blow in now sometime that next evening and we three was sitting and smoking a little weed by lamp light in Mina's cabin that carried space for Mina's bed and her fireside and Shannon Sit on the matt but keeping her dress on below her waist for she is modest and could do enough with her titties anyhow and she was talking and little Mina and me lay on the bed and we all passed my pipe and was peaceable and taiking and in a little bit they got together and started henpecking and Mina sat up against the wall then and giggled and backed Shannon up and I was letting them spoil my mood which had been of verge to turn peaceable and I know something was wrong about something somewhere. Mina had reached out of somewhere with these two cheroots and give one to Shannon and they took a stick and lit up and filled the air with it and offered me tokes knowing of course I never indulge in tobacco. He has to smell the wind, said Mina. I knew there was evil spirits in the air for them to be acting that evil. Shannon kept hers in her mouth and put her hands behind her head and stuck her chest out and leaned against the wall and spread her legs and such like and got kind of wistful, how here we had a world full of white men going to hell except maybe me other than the fact I ain't good for nothing cept sucking titties. Understand, I never see such a black piece of ass so intel-lectual as was Shannon and she had even learned to read books and sometimes we had brung her books. First I was minding to defend myself and said what in hell else is a grown man supposed to be doing but I was still with my pipe and too slow and too outnumbered and the tobacco give them all kinds of aggression and mean wit and so I give up and let them go at it cause I knew this other thing was going on somewhere. Next thing the dogs outside all howled together. The horses would of stampeded if they had not been hobbled. Dan knocked on my door and I leaped up and flung it open and Dan was a werewolf. It sure did beat all.

Yeah, goddamnit, Dave, he apologised, but that ain't the point. Whew, ew, ew, ew~e, my.

AIright, Dan, I said. What've you been up to? I'm a werewolf, Bill, he said. Well, I know, Danny. Come on in and sit a spell. Then I turned to the women and I said, alright, you smarty pants bitches. My friend Dan is a werewolf. They was pissing in their pants, except they had no panties on and Mina pissed on the bed. I think Shannon was the stronger because she had strength enough to stand and let Dan pass. The dogs was still howling and the horses still wanted to stampede. I was about to sit back on the bed but Shannon and Mina was saying I was a werewolf too. Is that so, Dan, I said, and he said it was, and so he and I sat by the hearth and had a powwow. The women cowered up on the bed I believe and I asked him where was Maggie and how did this happen. I don't feel bad about it, he said. I told'im it didn't seem to be hurting me none either but what was behind it all and where was Maggie. I could not get him straight on anything about Maggie and he said that was not what we had to talk about and ~hat her magic was not as strong as was his nohow. What are we going to do about this, Wild Bill, he said. Well, Dan. Think of it this way. If you and me are werewolves, Kelly and Hatch and Jaime must be werewolves too. Maybe so, but what are we going to do? Dan, let's ride. What if Coonhound is a werewol~ I don't know, but it ain't his night and he ain't running in our pack so he ain't coming to the door. We jumped up and tossed kisses to the women and said we'd see'em someday and Kelly and Hatch and Jaime opened the door and met us. Let's ride, they said. Yep. We grabbed our stuff and the dogs shut up and whined and the horses shut up too because, afterall, they knew us, they was ours and we wasn't going to run on foot clear down to the Brownrats werewolves or no. There was a full moon and the whore shacks all quiet behind us when we got moving. We rode easy and there was nothing you could say about it then or later. Just that later everybody said it felt pretty good. By time we got down to the Brownrats we had all cleared up. Dan had his blood back to green most probably, and those Brownrats did not believe none of it but that did not matter. But we know this. Man and Jesus Christ included comes from wolf.

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