Chapter Eight

(Of Man and Revenge)


Now the Brownrats came from the kind of man that goes after the fish in the sea. They had reckless natures and they was shy and fearful of other men. Down with them was living Tiddle Caylor be-cause he knew Tom Bowman from New Orleans and showed these Brownrats a big dectective badge and a warrant for the arrest of Tom and on account the Brownrats never had heard of Tom Bowman they was enduring some lacks in communication with Tiddle, and at the same time Tiddle was a stranger in their midst. Tiddle was little and thin as a mean bird. Maybe you boys think I'm not going to do nothing about this fact of Tom Bowman owes me a million dollars of U.S. currency or gold either way, is how Tiddle explained it to the Brownrats. The Brownrats said to Tiddle they believed it.

We come down in the wind and the rain and settled inside the Brownrat cabin where once had slept all five Brownrat sons plus Kenny Weavr, and Mary Jo which is the sister to the Brownrats was in there with a couple of her friends and huddled and smiling in a corner at the fireside and talking with themselves and the Brownrats shouted and cussed and moved about and spit in the fire and stepping on Pancho and Tippy the dogs and we come in there and told everybody we was werewolves. Kenny Weaver, now, was all for it, and said he was glad to see us back and he asked about everybody and Tiddle got mad at us starting out because Kenny was his main audience and here Tiddle had bought rum for all around and Mary Jo was cooking up a mess of rum for everybody with butter and honey in it and Kenny was taking on the story about Tom Bowman but Kenny was more interested in hearing how we was werewolves and each year Kenny had been telling Hatch he had got strong enough to take old Hatch and Ilatch was saying, naw, naw, Kenny, don't wanta mess with you, naw, naw, and Tiddle jumps up hollering, hey, hey, and for the last goddamned time I am going to ask if there is a one here knows that Packy Gunter and Tom Bowman and Black Hatch got teamed u,p and I mean to see Tom Bow-man because he owes me a million dollars in gold and I well damn know how you all has at one time or likely many known Packy Gunter or Black Hatch or Wild Bill Olive besides and all these fellers are bank robbers in Nuevo Laredo and Tom Bowman went and joined the gang. Naw, naw, little feller, Black Hatch told him, you got this all wrong now. In the first place, I am Black Hatch. Well, you don't say, said Tiddle. I do say and just who in hell are you, Hatch said. Have a jug of hot buttered rum, Black Hatch, Tiddle said, and, hey, Mary Jo, lass, get old Black Hatch here some hot buttered rum and warm his insides. Fierce night out there, ain't it, Black Hatch, whew. Hatch told Mary Jo to sit tight and just hold her horses because he was going to get that rum by hisself. I am awful damn sorry I misjudged you boys be- cause I was told by Tom Bowman's old maw herself that her son was in your gang now and how things was too hot in El Paso so you moved to Laredo to rob the bank but I see it just ain't true now this fool no-tion I was give that Tom Bowman that high yeller scalawag is surviving within the shelter and gang of you tough fellows, Tiddle was saying, and Hatch over saying none of that sweet stuff and raising one of Tiddle's bottles and I took a cup out of the pot and sit down side of Tiddle because he was really not even in his right senses and I had got curious about what the matter was. What was you going to do with Tom Bowman if you catch him, I said to Tiddle and he pulled out his warrant and went to working on his answer and I went to refill my cup and let him work some room on it and Mary Jo and a couple of her friends was of mind to talk to me because me being a greater man than even Black Hatch around there and about that time the Brownrat mother Josephine had made it across the flats to check on everybody and see to no orgies in development or nothing and she splashed on in, hello, how are you boys and girls doing, why hello, Bill Olive, when did you get here, they ain't hung you yet, and, hello, Richard, and so on and for a minute there I was taken with ringing out my shirt and entertaining Josie and could feel Hatch was about to jump on me with his neck hold and so just as Hatch made his move so did I too and slithered loose of the circle of Josephine and the girls just about the time Hatch was breaking his leap and Josephine saying you drunk al-ready, Richard, my my, and Hatch saying, aw, naw, mam, naw man, and I sat by Tiddle and said, say, what do you think of these people? I can't believe it, he said, and had him'a long drink, and said, I ain't normally a drinking man. Have a pipe with me, I said to'im, and got mine out. Injun weed, I said to'im, seeing him for a feller what pre-ferred the picturesque side. Now understand that here Tiddle had been about a week with these Brownrats in the attempt of getting informa-tion when there wasn't even any nohow. These Brownrats was living together like Pueblo Indians married or not and all while Josephine had got everybody Catholised except Kenny Weaver that was a orphan what had drifted into the family in its later stages and old Kenny could even dance or go to bed with somebody's wife or what have you and Kenny was the only blond headed Brownrat, and Kenny was the only one in the clan that saw Tiddle really and truly was after a ans-wer or two whether he really and truly needed it or not. Too, Tiddle was just finished being in threat by Jed, Jed Brownrat, for wanting to get Jed's wife off by herself, and saw now the Brownrats, or at least some of'em, was even capable of getting riled. Whew, said Tiddle again. It beats me. Don't fight it, I advised and give him the pipe and it did take us a long time and many pipes and instruction to break his head in with the weed and Dan picked up a guitar and he was a long time straightening out since he had not played for a year or so but was getting it real good by time Hatch rang out with a war whoop and then Tiddle rolled off the table and had a seisure. Josie went home by then. We had old Jim Brownrat smoking by now and he is the smartest and best talking Brownrat, other than periods when the Devil got his soul and old Jim was telling me what we needed down here was like Jacob and Coonhound to build our own whorehouse because all these bitches and friends of his sister was not for shit. Now, Jim, I said, you're just getting bitter. Jim had a wisdom of poor white and plus fishermen from earliest times ever but plus that of a man fearful of being enclosed and overwhelmed. Where does it all end, he would say. And, what are we doing here? Speak to me, God! What can you tell me today, God? This night he said, I don't believe it, and slung his arm around his eyes and flipped backwards off the table tambien and commenced to growl and spit like a cat and howl and snarl like a dog, first, and next wallow and roll and go hal-al-luh-lah that the Devil had hold his coat tails. Ow, ow, ow, said Jim, he's crawling up my leg now. Somebody grab'im for he bits my balls off, ow. This always irritated his brother John more than anybody and Jim was banging his heels and going in a circle on his back like a bu~ted crab or riverboat and John was attempting to follow with stomps next to his head. While Jim was not appreciated by his family, of him bearing the cross, none the less when this sort of affair proceeded it inclined to set free the rest of them and create debauchery, and even with at this point Mary Jo stayed a good girl-least with her brothers by-you now had about three young women lifting their skirts and taking great prancing leaps from bed to bed-three big beds-in and out the flickering fire light and cloud of weed smoke and hands or teeth would snatch at the skirts or rumps as they went over. Couple girls was satisfied with just this much but one and I'll leave her name out let herself get caught and taking on three four Brownrats and Dan, though of course Dan ain't never going to share so went back to playing guitar. The industrious Brownrats are Ben that is also best fornicater and Robert that had a wife and Kenny Weaver and those three left at dawn to go duck hunting.

It was mean weather to move in but there weren't far to go to my father's ranch and Kelly was minding to see his wife now and after a couple days of this foolishness with the Brownrats we set forth again. Tiddle was settling down and getting familiar and making friendly little jokes and since we was now all informed of his big plan to get legal assistance from law enforcement by showing his fake law enforcement credentials he was agreeing to set up a dry goods store on the island and we told him we would send his ex-partner Tom down to see him when we got around and what Tiddle wanted anyway was to be accep-ted by some friends somewhere and the Brownrats was coming where they did not mind him and they needed the store with the changing times, or so all said cept Jim. The Brownrats was going to help and too Jaime had a lot of connections. But damn the details because I ain't making this a total biography or history but just telling some stories.

There was a fiesta at the Olive's to celebrate my home visit or escape from getting hung out of the Nuevo jail and my dear mother wanted me to hang on till Christmas so to have her children all for Christmas at one time but I told her I could not stay out of business that long but told her I would be taking the train from El Paso and be sure and get back for Christmas. We had a nice little fiesta and Jaime and all his brothers and big Lisandro Herrerra and a few more of that gang of Mescans rode over and Lisandro and Hatch nearly fought and took to liking one another and my dear mother had her children all together at one time again. My sister, Bonnie, had just finished whipping a man over in that coast town of Rockport. Funny how a little word can get around and all distorted, because Bonnie rode to Rockport this day before and some fool neither of us knew hollered to her how he heard how they was closing in on me and Bonnie come off her horse with her quirt and had the man repeat it and I guess he thought he was up to handling Bonnie Olive (well, she got married but had some trouble) Griggs, so he repeated and went to snatch her quirt and she landed her fist between his eyes and he went down and she beat him with her quirt till she nearly killed him and then she kicked him two times in the head, and it is a good thing she won so that he did not have to meet one of us because you only keep on top by seeing these people never get their edge. And Bonnie is a good looking girl, too, always the life at the party.

Not much happened after we settled down at the ranch. Janus which is Kelly's wife had a little girl and they were building a cabin, wanted to build a room for me. Settle down, Wild Bill, they said. I knew Packy needed me and I had took on a bad love affair and no reason to go into that and in no time I filled with chopping wood and tying steers and pitching hay and my father got mad because as he hired a couple hands Dan came around drunk one morning and hit one of them, so my old man was on verge of hitting Dan and we went on up the country to see Old Dave. Hatch came, said he would ride with us on his way to Arkansas. Some other things had occured, too, and Miguel told us he had no interest in Packy Gunter Inc., and said that when the railroad reached El Paso he might just come for the visit. Some of this may not be complete in my mind but damn the details and we went to see Dave. Understand that Ihad got very bored. It was a little different than just restless, in the sense I was feeling for the first time in my life a craving for hope, and I guess this is why I went to the jungle with Dan, which was later, why I fell in love, which was even later, and why we did make the revenge attack on Nuevo Laredo in careless odds. We had the worrisome feeling that just staying out of poverty in changing times might not be enough and Hatch was so gloomy he took no road to Arkansas before we reached Old Dave's cabin on the Colorado, which was the same cabin where we killed the lawyer and his thugs and Old Dave was gloomy too and just sitting out there after his wife run off and fishing and had a big pot belly, but he was real glad to see us. I been going crazy and hope you boys brung some weed, he said. We smoked a couple days and he talked how his gal friend had left him too and he was waiting for that one to return and so far he was friendly with these neighbors building up the river and had give'em a down payment on a real good horse and some law fellers was running up and down and kept bothering him on Dan about wanted in Austin for abducting and absconding with a sixteen year old white girl and niece to one of'em or something like that and he hoped he had saw the last of'em cept he hadn't, and as he loved us and was overjoyed to see us he sure wasn't coming to join Packy Gunter incor-poration or no incorporation and even in Austin you heard about the law and order of Marshall Stoudenmire which consisted of shoot'em first and hang'em later and besides his gal was going to come back to his loving arms. You sneaky sonofabitch, said Hatch. You love us, hell! Now wait just a minute, said Old Dave. Wait just a minute now, hold on there! Old Dave always respected or feared Hatch and they had once lived real thick. Hatch is right, said Dan. You going to come with us or not, said Dan. Now wait a goldurned minute, wait a goldurned minute, went Old Dave getting a sweat and pushing his hands at us. Olive! You ain't said nothing! What's your stand? Here, I got to show you men this book of real romantic poetry I grabbed from up the river. Fuck that shit, screams Dan. You coming or not because we gotta know finally once and forever that you're gonna be with us or no! Now hold on there, Wild Bill, what's your stand, Old Dave was saying and I saying hell we got Stoudenmire eating chicken shit, and these law fellers was back again and clamoring on the door and im-polite. It was sure the wrong time for'em to come, three, interferring with our Texas Gang in powwow and we let'em come on in and not even wiping their boots and first not seeing Hatch behind 'em and they said was this Dan McConchie and he was wanted in Austin for abduc-ting and abscounding with a sixteen year old white girl and she was seventeen by now and Lord knows if dead or alive and Hatch looks outside, says, only three! , and under sheer impatience Hatch takes one by shoulder and arm and cracks his bones flipping him into the fireplace and they never got off a shot with Dan knocking the other two down by using a bucket full of ashes and all of'em inside this big cloud from ashes this one in the fireplace was smouldering a little and come crawling back out and Dave weighing about two twenty or thirty stomped up and down on him and then did the same to the other two, and by time those boys shut up they was a mess. But it wasn't only three, because they wasn't so stupid as we thought and two more had out flanked the cabin, had counted all the horses in Dave's corral and was calling out, Tom, Fred, Harry, you alright, and Dan took a window and shot at them and went on about hell no, they're not alright and me and Black Hatch will give you motherfuckers the same too! They rode off, hollering they would get reinforcements. I'll reinforce you, called Dan after'em and goes running off to send them a couple rounds with Dave's Winchester. Next, Old Dave was so worried he had tears in his eyes. Hell, I only wanted to put the fire out on that boy, he said. Hell you say, sneers Hatch. Then what about these two! Goddamn, went Dave, did I do that too, oh my lord, goddamn! Oh my lord, you boys got me so upset I just got carried away! Yeah, said Dan, coming in, happy, you got so carried away looks like you killed all three of'em. All three of them gushed blood out of everywhere on the head and as we studied them one was maybe dead, think the one came out of the fireplace and had some ribs mashed into his lungs but the other two was living if they did not bleed to death. We said, now that you got 'em, Dave, what you want done with 'em? Old Dave was a pitiful man sitting on his bunk with his head in hands and saying, I dunno, I jus dunno. And, oh lord, goddamn. Well, Dave, said Hatch. I don't know about you, but these fellers got my name, thanks to Dan, and I know they're coming back, so I ain't staying. Oh lord, goddamn, said Dave, just before he got up and started packing fast.

Except for Old Dave we were now in good mood. We went through the pockets and saddles of the three fellers and come up with a few dollars and couple watches and this and that and bottle of whiskey and we did not need more guns but took a little ammuni-tion and headed for the border soon as we scattered their horses. Hatch drank half the bottle and handed it back to us saying, whew, did I need that, oh boy, now I can't go to Arkansas after my big speech to this here sneaky sonofabitch. We moved hard for that day and night and come into a good place to build fire and was hungry but had to set some sleep so did and when we woke up the next evening here come Danny with a steer he lassoed and we ate that night keeping a eye out and made some plans. It is time to kill those bastards in Nuevo, we concluded. Oh my lord, said Old Dave and daybreak we put some country between us and the hide of that steer and when we come to Laredo we camped on the river and was in good shape. Now there is some detail where Old Dave and Hatch went into Laredo on the American side to get bacon and coffee and Dave got himself involved with this gal and next wife, Sherry, at one of the stores because he and Hatch was taking time and her people owned most all the business in that town and I forget what lies he told her but she was young and good looking and rich and Dave fell in love and me and Dan was real anxious when they got back and said we was all invited to dinner and to take baths. Well we took baths and went to this big dinner which her maids fixed and her folks never knew about and somehow to suit Dave's falsehoods and sins we had to spend a couple extra days in the area and this is where we had come more close to killed than we ever had been so we was getting real ner-vous. By this time Old Dave was really in love and telling us how he wanted no part of a profitless blood bath, in fact he said some damn thing about let him get married first so we would have wealth behind us, he was all out of his head, and the women and friends we knew in Nuevo was telling us the day to day information about the body of men at the jail and the boredom and tension and plain fear was all mounting up to where we just could not hold it no longer. Those bas-tards kicked me in the nuts once, let's do it now, spoke Hatch. By that time his face was going yellow and white and purple. No, no, oh my lord no, put in Old Dave. Sherry and me are paying visit to her grandmother on the Nuevo side today. Fuck Sherry, fuck her grand-mother, said Hatch and Dan. We agreed to do it at siesta time and Old Dave was spending the morning running back and forth between us and Sherry with all kind of lie and first she was on one side the river and next on the other and high noon we rode slow into Nuevo with- out Dave and for sure she could see he was going crazy about some-thing and first we passed the bridge and there was Old Dave driving Sherry across in a buckboard. You sneaky sonofabitch, we yelled. Where is your horse, damn you! You coming with us or no! Old Dave was jumping all around in that buckboard, raving, doing his arms like a windnll, snatching at his head, twisting circles, loses his hat. See, Sherry, says I. Here you are about to marry a crazy man. Sherry was very suspicious by then, and she took to imploring him, and this give him strength, and she clutched at his pants and this give him moral fiber and he stood with arms crossed and said no, he was not coming, and she drove him across like that. We stopped and watched him go till his back was to us and he stood there like a tree and Sherry drove. Will you look at that sneaky sonofabitch, Hatch said. This was the period in history everybody called Dave sneaky sonofabitch. Let him go, Dan said. He ain't no brother of mine. You Scorpions are ready to kill, ain't you, I said. That is right, they said. Bill, you are right on that one. First we rode past the jail a couple of times and nary a soul looking. It was a quiet day and nobody in the street. How you want to do this, said Hatch. We have to make sure we get them all, said Dan. Well, how many is that, I said. Damn, I can't remember, said Hatch. There was a hell of a lot of'em, said Dan, and we have to get them all this time cause there may not ever be another chance. Let's set the jail on fire, he said. But it's adobe, and they ain't all in there. Damn, whatta we do? We was really stalled. Soon there was the jail and there was us clustered out in the middle of the street and nary a soul nowhere. We got to stir'em up somehow, said Dan. Next thing here come Old Dave whipping that buckboard and had left Sherry with her grandmother, don't do it, don't do it, oh my lord no! This bought a few sleepy heads looking out of the windows. Goddamnit, screams Dan, now we don't got the element of surprise! Don't do it, we'll all get rich, I won't let you do it, hollers Dave and now you had some people looking through their doors and then from out of the bars some police come walking toward us and now in another buckboard come some uncle or whatever driving Sherry and her grandmother and damned if I can see why that old gal turned out for it but we knew then it was going to happen, sure enough. We spread out. Another little bunch of police came from another bar and that made eight and then a face I could recall come from the jail house with a rifle and he saw it was us and me on one end and Hatch in between and Dan off on the other side shot him in the face and he had no head when he went down and the grandmother ups and topples off her wagon and Old Dave went into his panic' and whips his horses and nearly rode me down and everybody running or diving or jumping or shooting Old Dave smashes through the bunch from the first bar and then real quick gets the horses back around trampling all over a couple Nuevo police and I shoot the other two while he is now heading opposit direction. It was wonderful. Hatch and Dan was riding and screaming and firing and had their bowie knives out and the Mes-cans on the other end was dropping everything and going for the bar because they did not know what was up. Hatch and Dan rode on into the bar and all in it went out the back way, which was too little for horses. I swooped along the dead man we knew and went to emptying both guns into the jail, back and forth with Indian tactics because I knew it was nothing but fun now. There was no resistance and I re-loaded and hopped down and took just a little care stepping inside and by now Hatch and Dan was outside the bar with cries of, Black Hatch, Danny, Wildbill, Bobsieb, Bix, Packy Gunter! Here come Old Dave again down the other end, and I heard him take up the calls too, now that he saw we won. Wait, wait, wait, said Dan. Leave off Sieb and Gunter, because they was not in it. Danny! Danny! Whoopee! Danny! Bix! Bix! Bix saved my life! Danny! Black Hatch! Wildbill! Bix! The jail only had a couple old drunks under their cots and I freed them and made them take a dollar apiece. They was pretty trembly so next I come across a bottle and poured a long drink of tequila down both of them. I had a drink and they found another bottle, and we come outside arms around each other and Sherry was lifting her grand-mother by herself because the uncle or whoever that was had run off and she couldn't lift the woman and Old Dave had been under too much pressure and as he whipped on by her once more singing our names and now including his own too she looked up and shreiked, butcher, butcher, butcher! Help me with my grandmother, you butcher! I watched him going for the other end and he was singing, O-o-old Da-aaiieevve! I and the drunks went to help her and she snarled at me get your filthy bloody hands off my grandmother, and somehow Old Dave seem to catch that part, and pulled the horses and brung'em back our way and I stepped back to let him and her have at it and saw how Hatch and Dan was taking off to rob the bank and I loaded four six guns and rifle or made sure and sniffed the wind because the last time we went to rob the bank and the law was tipped off we had at least twenty Mescans kicking the shit out of us and I was wondering where they had all gone now. Hatch and Dan tell soon as they run in the bank and the people saw it was them again for sure and this time on top they handed them the gold real obligingly, though, later, we saw it was only worth about a thousand and figured they had shorted us, most of it in silver and a lot of Mescan dollars, so we decided to rob the one across the river, Sherry's bank, but right now I took my rifle and placed my horse back of the jail and dumb on top of the jail and looked out, and sure enough off behind some houses come a rising cloud of dust which was reinforcements closing back in on us. I hollered the information down at the bank and saw Hatch and Dan scamper out and Ijumped down and back on my horse. I believe this had been the stroke which Icilled Sherry's grandmother, which meant Sherry was inheriting mucho, and she was emotional and crying now and we all took off for the bridge and Old Dave following in the buckboard but grabbing Sherry first and carrying on with so much of this and that that we told Dave we would just wait for him out of Laredo in this place in order for him to get his piece said and get his horse but we could wait no more than four hours, and, I guess the grandmother was left in that buckboard in Nuevo Laredo because I don't remember her in the one Dave had. It was a little confused at that point. Then, Old Dave met us five hours later, outside Laredo, and we informed him we had been cheated in Nuevo so was robbing the bank on this side tomor-row. He cried that it was his fiance's bank, we told'im, look, Dave, she'll never miss it, and you say you're going to write'er you took no part in it, it was only your blood brothers did it, so you just wait here. Then we went and robbed that bank with no trouble at all, got only several thousand. Only problem was a posse went directly after us and I had to circle back by myself to pick up Old Dave and he was in quite a dither by then, all stretched out on his back by a big careless fire, looking like someone shot him between the eyes. But I got him back on his feet.

There was some trouble catching Hatch and Dan and we thought we ought to because they was too heavy with all that money. Plan was to rest in this town we knew on the Mexican side and we reached them at the river and figured things out. We seperated again and then come back together at this ranchero we knew outside the village and we spread some money and after some playing and singing and dancing was done for us we got ourselves a hut and sat and thought about it some more. There was these two sisters in there with us both kind of big and fat and strong and we took turns mounting them and we ate and drank and smoked and our heads was clear and Old Dave even wrote Sherry a letter. Here we had been a little insane making the raid on Nuevo and we knew the world was'driving us crazy. There should be more love in the world, spoke Black Hatch. Si, Si, Si, says Dave working hard on his letter by candlelight and Dan from under Rosita says, magic cities, we're going to the magic cities, it's all in the magic cities. Down in the jungle, down in the jungle!

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