Taking Down Bartolo Sepulveda and Juan Soto – From The Texas Bounty Hunters

Esben and Shoots Plenty spent the day riding along the Rio Grande River heading to Fabens, Texas, the town where Captain Smith of the Texas Rangers said Bartolo Sepulveda and Juan Soto were last seen. Fabens, located 25 miles southeast of El Paso on the Rio Grande River, was formerly known as Mezquital.
Esben was contemplating how they would take down Sepulveda and Soto when he realized Shoots Plenty was speaking again.
“Last night after you fell asleep Wanaghi Tachanku was visible in the sky. To the Lakota people, it is called the Trail of the Spirits. The white man calls it the Milky Way. I do not know why the white man calls it that.
The trail of the spirits is the road of the dead to the spirit world.
The Lakota people believe that after death, the deceased person’s soul will go to the happy hunting ground, a place that resembles the world of the living, but with better weather, and more plentiful animals that are easier to hunt than they are in the world of the living. I do not think any wasichus are found there. That is why the Lakota spirit goes there. ”
“So, your lady friend, Carmen, won’t be able to join you in your spirit world?”
“Carmen will join me if I wish her to. She is not a white eye.”
“You have that much influence, Shoots Plenty?”
“You must have forgotten, Wasichus, I am a member of the Bear Clan. The Bear Clan is highly regarded by all my people.”
Esben ignored him and said, “There’s San Felipe,”pointing to a small log building in the distance. Esben and Shoots Plenty rode up to the stagecoach station and Esben dismounted and walked inside. “Hiya, Rex, how have you been?”
Rex Simpson, a small man with a full white beard, wearing a beat-up hat and leather vest over a frayed flannel shirt replied, “I’ve been able to sit up and take nourishment. How ’bout you, Esben?”
“I’ve been fine. We are looking for a couple of Mexicans, Bartolo Sepulveda and Juan Soto,” Esben responded, placing the wanted posters on the counter.
“We were told we would be able to find these two in Fabens. Have you seen them?”
“For sure. They been coming and going here for the past year. I believe I saw those two in the presence of another Mexican by the name of Julio Cardenas go into the Darby Saloon down in Fabens. That Cardenas fella goes by the name of Two Ropes.”

“How far is Fabens from here?”
“Bout three miles.”
“Thanks, Rex, we’ll see you later.”
He walked outside and took the reins of his one-eyed mule from Shoots Plenty and said, “According to ol’ Rex we can find them in town. Most likely at the Darby Saloon.”
“The Mexican spends too much of his time drinking that corn whiskey. It will be easy for us to kill these men,” Shoots Plenty replied as Esben mounted his mule and rode in the direction of Fabens and the Darby Saloon.
There was a soiled dove sitting at a piano against the far wall playing and softly singing the song, The Yellow Rose Of Texas. Two young cowboys were standing at the bar with a bottle of whiskey and a couple of glasses in front of them and at a table in the far corner sat Bartolo Sepulveda and Juan Soto, along with a very large Mexican. They were in the middle of a card game.
Shoots Plenty and Esben spread out as they walked to the back, one on each side of the table.
“You fellas are coming with us,” Esben announced.
Bartolo Sepulveda turned around first and looked at Esben and Shoots Plenty with disdain before he declared, “Who are you? You ain’t the law.”
“Oh, but we are,” Esben responded.
“Hell, they’s bounty hunters,” Juan Soto replied.
“I knew you wasn’t no law. No redskin can arrest a Mexican,” Sepulveda answered as he faced the two men. “This the best you could rustle up, bounty hunter,” he spat on the floor while staring at Shoots Plenty.
Shoots Plenty could smell his breath six feet off.
“I did the best I could with the what I had,” Esben replied. “I’ve got six slugs and so does he and there are only three of you. Seems to me we have more than enough.” He glanced over at Soto and the other man, Julio Two Ropes Cardenas. Two Ropes had six inches on Soto and more gristle than the other two combined.
“Wasichus, this hombre’s breath smells worse than your one-eyed mule,” Shoots Plenty said.
“That bad?”
“Yes, that bad.”
“Two Ropes,” Sepulveda barked the name without taking his eyes off Shoots Plenty.
Two Ropes got up and stepped away from the table, his wide mouth turned up into a malicious grin.
Shoots Plenty’s eyes followed him and his hand tightened on the grip of his pistol.
“You might as well make your move, Bartolo because none of you are walking out of here.”
Esben could see a slight tremor in Sepulveda’s hand.
Shoots Plenty had enough and drew his .45 and cracked the hammer and fired point blank at Sepulveda. Sepulveda’s gun had barely broken leather when Shoots Plenty’s shot struck him just above his mouth, shattering his teeth. Blood splattered over his face as he crumbled to the ground.
“You bloodsucker,” Soto screamed as he drew his gun but Esben had a bead on him and pulled his trigger striking him in his right arm, rendering it useless.
Shoots Plenty turned and fired at Two Ropes Cardenas striking him in the throat. The big Mexican stood gurgling in his own blood before oxygen was cut off from his brain, killing him before he hit the ground.
Soto reached across his body with his left hand, attempting to get his .45 when Esben shot him again, this time in the chest, spinning him around. He fell face first onto the floor.
Esben looked over at Shoots Plenty whose .45 was still smoking in his hand and said, “Well, that was easy.”
“Yes, it was easy,” he responded while holstering his Colt. “Now we collect our money.”
As they rode out of Fabens Shoots Plenty felt he had something important to say.
“Did I tell you the story about how the catfish got a flat head?”
“I’m sure you did, you old squaw, but you are going to tell me again aren’t you?”
“My grandfather told me this story…”

 

How The Black Wind Horse Saved The Lakota

BLACK WIND HORSE

Esben grabbed the horse bladder holding what was left of their water and took a drink before passing it over to Shoots Plenty.
They had been riding since before sunrise and the sun was now dropping fast. They were looking for a suitable place to stop and make camp for the evening.
“What is this place you call, Fabens, like?” Shoots Plenty asked. “Carmen said there are many bad men that come there from Ciudad Juarez.”
“It is a bad place, but not any worse than many of the others we have been to. Captain Smith said that a cattle rustler by the name of Bartolo Sepulveda and his partner, Juan Soto, have been spotted there many times. They cross over into Texas to steal cattle and sell them to ranchers in the New Mexico Territory and then flee back to Ciudad Juarez where they are safe from the Texas Rangers. We will put an end to that pretty soon.”
“And get more of the paper money.”
“Yes, more of the paper money,” Esben replied.
They rode in silence again for a few minutes when Shoots Plenty felt he had something important to say.
“Wasichus, did I tell you the story told to me by my grandfather, the one about Unhcegila, the serpent monster?”
“If I told you that you had, you old squaw, you would still tell it to me again, wouldn’t you?”
Shoots Plenty ignored him and did exactly what Esben said he would do; he told him the story again.
“My people originally came from the center of the earth and found themselves in Wakpa Wakan, the Spirit River, what the white man calls Rum River. It flows through Ogechie Lake which is downriver from Mille Lacs Lake, the source of this river. Soon there was the big flood, and my people went into Mille Lacs Lake and lived as underwater people. Before long a whirlpool pulled them up to the surface and threw them out onto the shore, where they now live as people who walk on land. My people are known as great explorers and it is at this time they explored the area and began living at the headwaters of the Spirit River. Here they met Unhcegila, the sea serpent.
Those of my people who know say the Unhcegila was a great snake, as large

UNHCEGILA

around as a tree trunk, with horns on its head, and a bright blazing crest like a diamond on its forehead, and scales glowing like sparks of fire. It had rings or spots of color along its whole length, and could not be wounded except by shooting or stabbing it in the seventh spot from the head where the red crystal was found because under this spot was its heart and its life. He who could kill it would become the greatest warrior of the tribe. Many of our brave warriors sought to kill Unhceglia to obtain the red crystal that was located in the seventh spot on her head which functioned as her heart. This red crystal granted its bearer great power. But was it worth a man’s life to attempt it, for whoever was seen by the Unhcegila was so dazed by the bright light that he would run toward the snake instead of trying to escape? As if this was not enough to keep the bravest of warriors away, the breath of the Unhcegila was so pestilential, it smelled much worse than your one-eyed mule, Wasichus, that no living creature could survive if they inhaled the tiniest bit of the foul air, expelled by the serpent monster. Even to see the Unhcegila asleep meant death, not to the hunter himself, but to his family.
One day Unhcegila ate the family of a warrior from the Bear Clan. The warrior was told by a Weasel spirit that if he were to be devoured by this serpent, he could use his knife to cut his way out and free the other victims.
So this warrior from the Bear Clan rode out on Black Wind Horse who, everyone knows, can fly.
This warrior rode for many days in search of this terrible serpent monster until he finally found it. Because of the great speed that Black Wind Horse possessed, the warrior was able to swoop down and catch the Unhcegila and a great battle ensued the outcome of which was not good because the serpent monster swallowed the warrior from Bear Clan as well as Black Wind horse. As the warrior from the Bear Clan was being swallowed he remembered the words of Weasel spirit who told him that if he were to be devoured by Unhcegila, he should use his knife to cut his way out, which he did, freeing all the other victims who had been devoured by the serpent monster.”

UNHCEGILA

“Aren’t you a member of the Bear Clan?”
“Yes, Wasichus, I am and my horse comes from Black Wind Horse”
“But he is an Appaloosa. He isn’t black.”
“He has black spots.”
“I should have known,” Esben replied, “I appreciate your sharing that story with me once again.”
“You are welcome, le mita cola.”
“Let’s make camp over there,” Esben said, pointing to a stand of cottonwood trees east of the Sante Fe Trail.
“That is fine,” Shoots Plenty responded. “Then I will tell you another of my grandfather’s stories.”
“I can hardly wait,” Esben replied, before squeezing his one-eyed mule into a trot toward the trees.

 

The Killing of Outlaws Grambling and Pilson – From The Texas Bounty Hunters

Shoots Plenty secured his horse to the hitching post in front of Madam Cortez’ House and proceded to walk around back to where Carmen had her crib. Two men came walking by, laughing and talking loudly. One of the men bumped into Shoots Plenty almost knocking him to the ground. They kept walking without looking up or acknowledging what they had done. When he arrived at the back of the house he rapped on the door, “It is Chief Shoots Plenty,” he said. The door cracked open and a slender arm reached out and pulled him into the room. Later, as he sat on the bed strapping on his Colt .45 and placing his black stovepipe hat securely on his head, he said, “Carmen, it is time that I go.”

“Where do you go to now, mi hermoso gran jefe?” Carmen asked while looking up at Shoots Plenty and placing the palm of her right hand gently on his cheek.
Shoots Plenty smiled as he slowly removed her hand and placed some crumpled up bills into it. He felt strong when she called him her beautiful big chief. He had never been called that before, not even by Gray Grass, because he was not a chief, and because he was not beautiful. Maybe it was his black stovepipe hat with his magical eagle feather, or maybe it was because he lied and told her he was a chief, or maybe because she liked that paper money he gave her. It did not matter. He was glad to be her big beautiful chief.
“There are two bad men in town that I must see and then I get more paper money. We travel to where the white men call Fabens. Do you know this Fabens?”
“Si, I know of it. There are hombres muy malos who come there from Ciudad Juarez to rob and kill so many people. You be careful mi hermoso gran jefe and return to your Carmen, si?”
“Shoots Plenty is careful.”
He stepped out into the morning sun, adjusted the gun belt on his hip, and walked around to where he spotted an old man across the street, sweeping down the steps of the saloon. He walked over and asked him if he knew where he could find Buster Grambling and Fred Pilson.
The old man stood up and removed a pipe from his mouth while looking Shoots Plenty up and down with a scornful eye and replied, “Yep, but I wouldn’t want to get crosswise with either of them two if I was an Injun, especially an old Injun like you. They got them Yankee rifles, the ones you load on Sunday and fire all week.”
“You mean the Henry Repeaters like that one?” Shoots Plenty asked pointing to the rifle hanging from the scabbard on his saddle.
“Yep, thems the ones. How’d an Injun get one of them? Ain’t that against the law?”
“I am the law.”
“Sure you are,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief. “Them twos in there in the saloon. Good luck cause you’ll need it.”
Shoots Plenty walked into the saloon. It was one of only a few times he entered one. Mainly because Indians were not allowed in most of them and also because he had no desire to be in one.
He saw the men standing at the bar with the Henrys propped on the floor, smoke curling over their heads from the cigars they were smoking. Grambling, the one who bumped into him, was the larger of the two, but still not a large man. His clothes were filthy like he had just ridden into town after spending a long time on the trail. Pilson didn’t look any better. Both of them wore what appeared to be Colt .45’s in their belts with most of the cartridges missing. He figured they stopped in the saloon first after riding into town then planned to go to the mercantile store to purchase or, more likely, steal more cartridges and gunpowder.
“You two you should come outside with me.”
His voice startled both men. They quickly swung around to see who was behind them, their hands instinctively going down to cover the butt of their gun.
“What did you say?” Grambling asked, not sure he heard correctly. “You an injun?”
“I am Lakota. Now, you and your friend, Pilson, come outside with me.”
“How do you know our names?” Pilson asked.
“I know. Now you should come.”
Grambling glanced over at Pilson and then they both started laughing.
“Don’t try to play rooster in my town, you filthy red skin,” Grambling said, while a grin spread across his pockmarked face.
Shoots Plenty took him in without moving his eyes. They were the coolest things in the hot smoky saloon but they set Grambling on fire. He was fumbling at his belt for fresh cartridges all the while smiling. Shoots Plenty had his fill of his charm so he shot him point blank between the eyes.
When he died he was still grinning.
Shoots Plenty turned to Grambling’s partner and said, “Your friend looks healthier than you do white eyes.”
“You best listen to good advice, you old red skin, Red don’t last around here.”
Shoots Plenty cracked the hammer of his Colt .45 again and shot Pilson between the eyes as well.
When he died he was not grinning.
Shoot Plenty stared with contempt at the dead body of Fred Pilson and said, “Red lasted longer than you white eyes.” He removed their gun belts and returned Grambling’s gun to his holster and threw them over his shoulder while he picked up the two Henry Repeaters and left, leaving both outlaws bleeding out on the filthy beer-stained floor.
Before he mounted his horse, he looked over at the old man who had his back pressed against the saloon wall and said, “You should take those two over to the man with the box that captures the soul of the whites. Tell him to send them to Captain Smith with the Texas Rangers in El Paso.”
“I ain’t takin’ no orders from no redskin,” he said.
Shoots Plenty just stared at the old man.
“Okay, don’t get all worked up you crazy old Injun, I’ll do that.”
“I will be back,” Shoots Plenty said before he turned and rode off into the west Texas hills.
Later when Esben returned he dismounted his mule and sat down next to Shoots Plenty who was drinking Moccasin flower tea and softly chanting and speaking to himself.
“I return and that whole town is talking about some crazy old redskin, wearing a black stovepipe hat with an Eagle’s feather, claiming he is a law dog, who just walked into a saloon he ain’t allowed in, and shot Buster Grambling and Fred Pilson without even blinking an eye and took their guns before riding off. By any chance was that you, Shoots Plenty.”
“That was Shoots Plenty.”
“Did you fry your brain in this heat?”
“I told the white eyes I was a law dog. Did you tell them Shoots Plenty is a law dog and collect my paper money?”
“Whoever heard of an Indian being a law dog?”
Shoots Plenty sat puffing on his pipe without replying.
“You are not the law.”
“I know that, but they do not.”
“They know you aren’t the law. Everybody knows you aren’t the law.
They are glad to see those two gone, but they ain’t too happy that an Indian would think it was alright to ride into town and gun down two white men, no matter how much they deserved it.”
“They should be happy the crazy old redskin stopped at shooting just two white eyes. He could have killed many of his enemies.”
Esben shook his head.
“I told them we are bounty hunters and I made sure the pictures of Grambling and Pilson got sent off to Captain Smith. I have the paper money in my saddle bags on my mule.”
“That is good, Wasichus. Your Captain Smith has hired an old Indian and an old mule packer to find these men because he cannot find other white eyes to do this. Plus we are pretty damn good at it, is that not so, Wasichus?”
Esben looked at the old Indian and smiled, “I guess we are.”
“Did I tell you the story when that trickster Coyote tricked the long knives into believing that their paper money grows on trees? You remember how that trickster Coyote tricked the long knives to release him from their jail by telling them he could train that big white horse?”
“I remember. I’m going to collect some wood and start a fire.”
“That is good. I will speak louder so you can hear this story as you do your chores.”
“My chores?”
“Is that not what the white man calls their work?”
Esben shook his head in exasperation and replied, “Just don’t scare my mule.”
“Your one-eyed mule will like this story because Coyote took the pack mules from the long knives. That is a good thing.
This is how it happened. Coyote was out of the cheese and crackers that the long knives gave him when he trained that big white horse and he had little money left so he came up with another trick to play on the long knives who were still pursuing him.
He knew they were greedy, like all white men, and he devised a plan to get all the pack mules the long knives had with them.
He found a big walnut tree and swept the ground clean under it and strung what money he had left on its branches. Pretty soon the long knives came along and Coyote said, “I’m going to tell you about this tree. Money grows on it and I want to sell it. Do you want to buy it?
The long knives were interested so Coyote told them, “It takes a day for the money to grow and ripen. Today’s crop is mine, but tomorrow it’s all yours. I’ll sell you this fine tree for all your pack mules.”
The long knives agreed to Coyotes terms, and Coyote got a big rock and threw it against the trunk. Most of the money fell to the ground. “See, it only ripens at noon,” he said. “You have to hit it just at noon.” He whacked the tree again, and the rest of the money dropped out. Now it was all on the ground and the long knives helped him pick it up and put it in sacks. They turned all their pack mules over to Coyote as agreed upon, and Coyote started off.
He traveled the rest of the day and all night until he was in another country. Meanwhile, the long knives camped under the tree waiting for noon. then the officer told the soldiers to hit the tree, and they pounded it hard. When no money fell out, the officer ordered it chopped down, cut into lengths and then split up, in case the money was inside. Of course, no matter what they did they couldn’t find even five cents just old worms and bugs.”
Esben shook his head. “Shoots Plenty,” he said, “I am finding so many of your stories so far-fetched they are laughable. You surely cannot expect anyone in their right mind to think that a company of Union Soldiers would be that gullible that they would give away all their pack mules to a mangy old coyote in exchange for a walnut tree that the coyote said had money growing on it?”
“It is so, le mita-cola, my grandfather told this story to me.”
“I’m turning in. We have a long ride ahead of us tomorrow.”

…and in walks Abby, the one-eyed dog and…Mike’s wife?

I graduated from Brookfield Central High School in 1963 with no clue on what I was going to do with my life. Some of you may find this difficult to believe, but I am not a scholar. I am confessing today that my monumental vocabulary is driven by the liberal use of the Thesaurus. Even though I graduated in the top 3/4 of my high school class and I was the captain of my high school basketball team, no universities were knocking at my door to invite me to visit their campus.

That summer I was spending a couple of weeks in Wisconsin Rapids with my grandparents. I had been doing this since I was five years old and had developed a close friendship with a couple of guys, Larry and Dennis Davis, who are a few years older than I am. I often wondered why they let me hang out with them. Larry is three years my senior and Dennis two. They even snuck me into a beer bar when I was only 14 years old where I had my first beer, a Michelob, whose bottle I fell in love with and kept. I think explaining to my grandmother where I got the bottle was the first lie I told her.
So, getting back to the summer of ’63, the Davis boys were home from college for the summer. Larry was attending Moravian College in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, and Dennis was attending Central College of Iowa, located in Pella Iowa, on a basketball scholarship. They called and asked me if I wanted to join them. They were going to the YMCA in Port Edwards to play in a summer basketball tournament. I still loved basketball at that point in my life and I was more than ready to join them.
It turned out most of the players were college players or former players and it was a three on three half-court tournament. I cannot remember everyone’s name, but there are two guys whose names stuck with me all these many years later. One is Larry Hilgendorf. He had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse, then LaCrosse College, where he was the captain of the basketball team. He was returning to LaCrosse that fall to get his masters degree in Chemistry and to coach the freshman basketball team. Larry recruited me right there on the court of the Port YMCA! Well, maybe recruited is not the proper word to use. He might have said something along the lines that I should consider going to LaCrosse and of course there was no scholarship money or even a free trip to visit the campus. But, I was like the proverbial wallflower at the school dance where nobody asked me to dance; so, the first person to do so… Well, not only was Hilgendorf the first, but he was the only person to ask me to play ball for him. So that is my college basketball recruiting tale and it was the first door that was opened to me that shaped the rest of my life because that is where I met my wife, Jacqui.
Oh, yeah, the other guy. He was a 6’6” all-state basketball player from Wausau Wisconsin who went to the University of Michigan on a basketball scholarship and later transferred to the University of Wisconsin to play basketball where he received his undergraduate degree as well as a masters degree and doctorate in business law. His name was Mike Schmidlkofer and that is what has stuck in my mind for the past fifty-some years. He was a very good basketball player, as well as baseball, but so were the rest of the guys there, but nobody had a moniker like “Schmidlkofer.”
Last night, Jacqui and I went to the Old Fish House in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida for dinner. We were the only people present at the time. It is “out of season” and most of the tourists have left for home and that is why we visit during this time of the year.
We ordered their award-winning tuna dip and a glass of wine and were visiting with the young bartender, Nicole, when in walks a lady, named Barbara, with her one-eyed dog named Abby. Immediately it became obvious to us that she was a regular as Nicole put a Bloody Mary in front of her and a bowl of water on the floor for Abby.
We struck up a conversation with her and she began to tell us about her life and how she ended up living in Santa Rosa Beach. We asked her where she was originally from as most people in Florida are originally from somewhere else. She said Ashland, Wisconsin. Well, Jacqui’s father was the principal of Ashland High School for a few years and Jacqui asked her if she knew him and a good friend of the Turner family, named Bill Woods. She did know their friend, Bill Woods, but she didn’t go to high school in Ashland because her family moved to Wausau where she attended Wausau High School.
Whenever I hear the name Wausau, I identify it with Mike Schmidlkofer, not Wausau Insurance Company, as many others do. So I asked her, “Do you know Mike Schmidlkofer?”
“Know him?” she said. “I married him.”
You could have knocked me off the bar stool if I had been sitting on one. This was really bizarre. I read where there are about 317 million people in the United States and here we were, the only two people in the Fish House that night and in walks the former wife of Mike Schmidlkofer and her one-eyed dog, Abby. I mean, what are the odds?
So, come to find out, after Mike, a non-drinker and non-smoker, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, he was offered a job to teach at the University of Florida and before he started, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away in 1969.

Tuintsunde Mescalero Renegades – Texas Bounty Hunters

 

They saw a pack of Mexican Red Wolves, wearily watching their approach on the distant horizon. They stopped and watched them for a moment before kicking their mounts as they climbed upward. The wolves turned and scampered into the sage and Creosote bushes that lined the vista and disappeared.
They were cotton-mouthed and dusty, sweaty, and growing weary when they stopped to water their animals. They hadn’t seen or tasted water for a long time.
Shoots Plenty felt he had something important to say.
“This is the land where the shunkaha is lord.
“Why don’t you speak English so I can understand what you are saying, you old squaw? What is a shunkaha?”
“You should know our language, Wasichus. The white eyes call him wolf the Mexicanos call him Lobo, but he is shunkaha to the Lakota. But even he is disappearing because of your people, Wasichus.”
“Are you sure he just ain’t hiding because of this heat you’ve been complaining about?”
“I am sure because now we see many more coyotes. They have moved in where the shunkaha used to be. The coyote is smart. The white eyes will not make the coyote disappear. He is too smart for the white eyes.”
Esben absently nodded his head as he scanned the horizon for any movement. Shoots Plenty had been talking for the past month about how the white man drove the Lakota from their ancestral land. He silently agreed with just about everything Shoots Plenty said, but he wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of letting him know.
“I dreamed that I was back in Paha Sapa and I was with Gray Grass and she was braiding my hair. Do you dream, Wasichus?”
“No, I don’t have time to dream. Dreams are just a waste of good sleep.”
“When our Creator sleeps his sleep is filled with dreams of His creation.
My people tell of the time He saw strange things in His dream. He saw animals crawling on four legs, some on two. Some flew with wings, some swam with fins. There were plants of all colors covering the ground. Insects swarmed everywhere. Dogs barked, birds sang. People called out to each other. Everything seemed out of place. The Great Spirit thought He was having a bad dream. He thought nothing could be this imperfect.
When the Great Spirit awakened, He saw a beaver nibbling on a branch. He realized the world of his dream became His creation. Everything He dreamed about came true. When He saw the beaver make his home, and a dam to provide a pond for his family to swim in, He then knew everything has its place, and purpose in the time to come.
We must not question our dreams, Wasichus. They are our creation.”
“Why are you dreaming of Gray Grass? You have been spending a lot of time with Carmen.”
“I dream of both women but not at the same time. That would not be wise.”
Above them Esben noticed a falcon circling, looking for a meal.
“You see that, Shoots Plenty?” he said pointing to the sky. “It’s not too hot for that Falcon to come out and look for food.”
“He probably smelled your one-eyed mule and thought it would make a tasty meal.”
At that moment they saw movement behind the plateau in front of them. They looked at each other. Shoots Plenty motioned with his hand in the direction of some Pinyan bushes.
“We are being watched, Wasichus.”
Esben kicked his mule, “Let’s ride.”
Outside of Tornillo, they came upon the bodies of a family of six Anglos. They were scalped and their eyes were poked out and they were all stabbed up. Their throats were cut too, and they were full of bullet holes. The woman’s breasts were cut off and they all were butchered between their legs. The odor of rotting flesh was overwhelming. Flies were everywhere.
“Reckon they killed everyone or did they take the rest prisoners?” Esben asked.
“I do not think so. Why take prisoners? It is not the way for the Tuintsunde Mescalero, who you call renegades.”
“How far are they ahead?”
“I would say they are here and they know we are here.”
After burying the six Anglos they continued toward Tornillo. When they got there it was deserted. They both glanced down at the dust below them and were shocked at what they saw. There were tracks of at least a dozen rigs, buckboards, wagons and carts as well as horse tracks, all shod, headed in the same direction – east.
“People left for a reason, Wasichus,” Shoots Plenty said, gazing in the direction the tracks led.
“Afraid of something.”
“Apaches.”
“Tuintsunde Mescalero Apaches. That’s who they are afraid of and who we came looking for. The people of the town have not vanished into thin air, they made a sudden frightened panic-stricken rush to get away.”
“I feel evil in this place,” Shoots Plenty confessed.
They looked over the desert toward the mountains while a lonely dust devil danced around them. Nothing met their eyes save an unbelievably vast stretch of desert.
“The Tuintsunde Mescalero are getting bolder and are on the warpath, burning, killing, maiming. The people of the town fled like sheep. Let’s get ready.”
Shoots Plenty didn’t argue. They tethered their animals in the trees near the shady spot they found. They loaded their rifles and Colt .45’s along with the Winchester ‘73s they took from Max Bentley and Wilson Kerrick and opened boxes of ammunition and then lay out, Esben lighting up a cheroot.
“Those small smoke sticks smell almost as bad as your one-eyed mule. You should only smoke Kinnikinnick.”
“I want to see the Tuintsunde Mescalero when they come for us, not some narcotically induced ghost.”
“When the renegades smell your smoke stick they will know you are a white eyes and think you must be a mule skinner because you smell so bad. That is why you should smoke Kinnikinnick it smells better. The Mescalero will think you are their people when they smell it and then we could ambush them.”
“Once you told me, Silence is the mark of respect; so, respect me.”
Before long they viewed a band of renegade Tuintsunde Mescalero appear over the horizon. There were twelve of them heading their way at a gallop.
As soon as they were in range, Shoots Plenty picked up his Henry rifle and began firing off as fast as he could aim, getting off five quick rounds.
Soon four Apaches lay dead on the ground and a fifth was dragging himself with his hands toward some brush, attempting to escape.
Esben rolled out three shots, all of them hammering into a Mescalero’s chest and throwing him backward off his horse.
At the same time, Shoots Plenty fired from behind a barrel at the front riding Mescalero. One of the slugs smashed the Mescalero’s elbow; the second tore his throat out. He went down with blood pouring from the wound. It looked more black than red in the fading afternoon sun.
One renegade had rapidly fired his gun at Esben but missed with every round. He was desperately thumbing fresh cartridges into the cylinder as Shoots Plenty and Esben were firing at the rest of the Mescalero’s who were falling around him. He snapped the weapon closed and lifted it, grinning as he aimed it at Esben.
It was Esben’s gun that was empty now. He couldn’t do anything as the renegade thumbed back the hammer of the old Army Officer’s Colt .44 revolver.
When the renegade was about to pull the trigger, Esben left his feet in a dive, snatched one of the Winchester’s from the ground as he rolled over, and came up firing. There were two shots left in the rifle and he put both of them into the Mescalero who was firing at him. The renegade went over backward and twitched a couple of times, and then lay still as a dark bloodstain spread over the front of his shirt.
When the dust cleared Esben and Shoots Plenty stood over ten renegade Mescalero’s dead bodies while they watched the last two riding hard toward the Rio Grande and back into Mexico.
Shoots Plenty, holding the scalp of the renegade who had crawled for cover in the surrounding bushes, said, “How will your Captain Smith know that these Mescalero are the renegades that he wanted us to kill? All us Indians look alike to you white eyes.”
“He’ll know. Let’s get these bodies loaded on the horses that were left behind and get them photographed and sent off to the captain. We got more work to do.”

WHITE MAN LEAVES A TRAIL OF BLOOD BEHIND HIM – FROM TEXAS BOUNTY HUNTERS

“Tomorrow we find these two outlaws,” Esben said,  pointing at the two wanted posters he had spread out on his blanket next to the fire. Max Bentley and Wilson Kerrick. A couple of horse thieves.”

“That is good. Your people have been stealing horses from my people for many sleeps. It is time the Lakota got revenge.”

“Well, you will get your chance for revenge tomorrow. They were spotted up near the area of Socorro. We’ll ride out first thing in the morning,” Esben replied, grabbing the posters as a burst of wind snaked around his ankles. “Now settle in and get some sleep.”

“I do not wish to settle. Your people have settled my people on a reservation near the mountains. I love to roam over the prairies. It is there I feel free and happy, but when we settle we grow pale and die.”

“Damn, Shoots Plenty, stop talking, will ya’? I don’t know who the hell you’re talking to half the time. You are either telling another story, or you are complaining about something. I’m tired. I’m going to sleep.”

“You should listen to what I say, Wasichus. A long time ago the land belonged to our fathers, but when I go up to the river I see camps of soldiers on its banks. These soldiers cut down my timber, they kill my buffalo, steal my ponies, and when I see that, my heart feels like bursting. When the white man comes in my country he leaves a trail of blood behind him.”

He turned and looked at Esben and found him asleep.

“I enjoy this killing of the white eyes,” he said, “where I get your paper money for doing something I would proudly do for nothing.”

Sleeps Plenty threw another log on the fire and pulled his buffalo robe around his shoulders and closed his eyes while softly chanting.

The next day they found themselves on a rocky windswept ridge. Esben was glassing down on the outlaw camp below. They were near Socorro, about thirty miles west of Agua Dulce.

“We will stake our horses here and approach on foot,” Shoots Plenty said.

They found six horses staked out, while the two rustlers slept, rifles close by their sides. Esben and Shoots Plenty readied their own rifles, and then Esben called out, “In the name of the law, come out with your hands raised.”

“We are not the law, Wasichus,” Shoots Plenty told him.

“I know that, but they don’t.”

The rustlers scrambled up, groping for their rifles.

“Don’t go for your guns,” Esben yelled out.

“You ain’t no law dogs,” Max Bentley replied as he raised his weapon and triggered a shot. For a moment the flat explosions of Winchesters broke the desert silence as each man brought his gun into play.

Esben cracked the hammer on his Colt .45 and fired. Max Bentley was struck in his right arm, rendering it useless. Esben fired off two more quick rounds. One striking Bentley in the neck and the other in the left cheek, killing him instantly.

Wilson Kerrick, a killer, and ex-convict, fired a shot at Shoots Plenty, but the Lakota warrior dropped him with the first round from his Henry .30-.30 Lever-Action Repeater Rifle.

Shoots Plenty emptied his rifle into Bentley. The first slug punched into Bentley’s belly, but the outlaw held his kneeling position. The Lakota pumped three more .30–30 bullets into Bentley’s torso. Yet somehow the stricken rustler stayed up, gamely trying to get his gun back into action. Shoots Plenty’s final shot drilled into Bentley’s left temple, ripping through his head and out his right ear. Bentley fell face forward, dead when he hit the ground.

Shoots Plenty said “That Wasichus showed more nerve under fire than I have ever seen displayed by a white eye before. Perhaps he is part Lakota.”

“That part would be his black heart,” Esben replied.

They cautiously walked over to the fallen rustlers, both were dead. They collected several new Winchesters from the camp, threw the bodies across the stolen horses, packed everything else that needed to be hauled out and headed north.

“Maybe now we can eat that one-eyed mule you ride and you can take one of these fine ponies.”

“I told you, we ain’t eatin my mule. So just quit askin.”

Shoots Plenty stared at the mule and finally said, “Let us get the man with the box that captures a white man’s soul. You can send it to Captain Smith so he can see that we killed these bad men, Kerrick and Bentley. They are beginning to smell as bad as that one-eyed mule you are riding.”

By the time they reached Ten Miles Well, a journey of 25 miles, the corpses had swollen badly in the heat. They sent word via wire for the Agua Dulce coroner, but he refused to come. Finally, the justice of the peace at Socorro, who had jurisdiction over the area, rode up with a wagon to take the bodies from them.

Two days later they received the reward money and left Ten Miles Well in search of the renegade Apaches who were terrorizing ranchers on the Texas Panhandle.

THE LAKOTA SACRED RED ROCK – THE TEXAS BOUNTY HUNTERS


“Wasichus, did I reveal to you the Lakota story of the sacred red stone?”
“Is this going to be another of your crazy stories, you old squaw?”
“You should listen, le mita cola, for my words are simple. You have not heard them because you have not taken the time to listen.”
“Oh, I listen. I can’t help but listen. You talk all the time.”
“You should open your ears and heart to the words of wisdom my people have to say. My people found a sacred red rock. It was shaped by the proud Sioux people upon the prairie of what the white eyes call the Black Hills in the Minnesota territory where the buffalo roamed known as Paha Sapa, to the Lakota.
We smoke it before battle and offer it in peace. There is power in this rust colored rock. When the winds blow ancient memories return to my people. The spirits of forefathers echo across the grassland. This red stone has powerful magic the Wasichus can not take it. The Great Spirit speaks to us through this rock; it speaks to our soul.”
“Why don’t you carry on your crazy conversations with your sacred red rock then and quit bothering me?”
Shoots Plenty continued, “When my people walk the windswept prairie of this Minnesota Territory we can feel the power of the haunting Red Stone. This is why when our people die we take them back to Paha Sapa, our holy land.”
“You better pray to the red rock that the white man doesn’t find gold or something in your Paha Sapa or you will have to find another place to plant your dead.”
“Sadly you are right, Wasichus. It is a shame what the white eyes do to the land of our ancestors. You know, we should shoot that one-eyed mule you are riding and eat it and get you a real horse. It would be nice to taste meat again.”

“I told you we are not killing this mule so just quit talking about it.”

“He smells too.”
“Hold up there, Shoots Plenty. Is that a body near that big rock?”
“I cannot see, I am old and my eyes are tired.”
“But your mouth doesn’t tire, does it? Let’s ride over there and take a look.”
Their animals snorted and pranced about nervously as the smell of rotting flesh entered their nostrils.
Esben and Shoots Plenty stared at the bloated and decomposing body of what appeared to be a young Charro, covered with rocks and lying among the dry sage next to a large boulder. He was wearing a serape, the garment worn by the farmers in the area.
“Some one shot him, Wasichus and it was not Apache. If Apache did this, they would have taken pecokan sunpi, a scalp lock. He was killed by the white eyes or possibly the Seditionistas that took your horse and guns.”

“There were twenty of them.”

“They would not be able to sneak up on a Lakota.”

“Maybe not a young Lakota.”

“That boy looks to be no more than twelve or thirteen years old. Shot through the left temple. Appears like he was executed. Someone tried to keep scavengers away from the body by covering him with rocks.”
“Why would someone kill a young boy? His family must be looking for him.”
“If he has a family. It appears like he has been here for a few days. I’m surprised the buzzards haven’t found him.”
“It is too hot here even for buzzards.”
“There are tracks over there. It looks like a shod horse and a small burro. The burro most likely belonged to this Charro. Perhaps he was robbed and then killed.”
“It is a shame to kill a small boy for his burro.”
“It’s a shame to kill a small boy. Let’s follow the tracks and see if we can find this person.”
They had almost reached the San Pedro River when the sun went down. The Cottonwoods lining the river banks were starting to shed their leaves. The ones remaining were yellow and faded. Their animals breached the water and they noticed what looked like another young Charro in the distance, leading a burro. They spread out about ten yards and each approached him from different sides.
“What is your name, amigo?” Esben asked.
“It is Juan.”
“Juan, we just found the body of a young Charro a ways back. Shot in the head. By any chance do you know him?”
“That is my brother, Pedro. He was trying to get his little burro back from a very bad man and he shot him.”
“Do you know this man’s name?”
“Si, señor, his name is Martin.”
“Brace Martin?”
“Si, señor, that gringo he take all thees belongings from me and my brother Pedro. We jeest getting it back when he come on us and he keeled my brother. I run off on my burro because I know he keel me too if I stay.”
“How did he get your things, Juan?”
“He ride into our camp and take everything we have off Pedro’s burro and beat us bad and leave us tied to a tree with no clothes. We find this hombre’s camp and sneak in at night and find our clothes and take what was ours and start to leave when the hombre he wake up and shoot and he keel Pedro.”
“Well, we have been following his trail. What kind of horse is he riding?”
“It is a beeg brown horse and he was leading Pedro’s little gray burro.”
Esben looked at Shoots Plenty and said, “You want to come with me or go back and play house with that Carmen lady?”
“I think I should go with you, Wasichus. She wants me to take up wah ti living and wants me to become her mihigna ki. I think I am too old.”
“You are old but not too old to become that woman’s husband.”
“No, I am too old. We should go. Who is this Brace Martin that we look for now?”
“He’s a stage robber out of the New Mexico Territory. He and a cow-boy by the name of Curly Bill Brocius tried to rob a U.S. Army conveyance near El Paso, Texas and wounded two soldiers. They were eventually captured but they broke jail and escaped to Mexico.
Martin came back and formed a gang of horse and cattle thieves. They have been riding out of the San Simon Valley of Arizona Territory. It’s time we ended that.”

CAPTAIN WHO? MAX FLY, PRIVATE EYE, AND THE GREEN BAY PACKERS

 

 

He had one of his nightly capers broadcast on the evening news, not only that but a country singer recorded a song about it. If that wasn’t enough, he knew Max Fly, Private Eye.            Max had the pleasure of spending some time with him, but not on that particular night which, upon conclusion, became a part of Atlanta’s folklore.
After reporting about our wild days in Atlanta during the ’70’s and ’80’s, when Lewis Grizzard and Ron Hudspeth, two local characters, would spin yarns at a bar off Peachtree Street in downtown Buckhead, I received many responses from long ago friends, some of whom spent time with me as well as without me at that Buckhead bar, as well as other guys who wanted to share their stories about Lewis Grizzard. One friend went to high school with Grizzard in Moreland, Georgia and another remembered the name of the bar – Harrison’s.
There was another character that wasn’t mentioned because I couldn’t recall his name.  I was reminded who he was and immediately I wondered how in the world I could forget his name. It’s former Atlanta Falcon’s football player and ex South Carolina Gamecock’s All American running back, Alex Hawkins.
On many occasions, while we were there, he would stumble into the bar. I do mean stumble. His friends would yell out, “Hey, it’s Captain Who!”
He acquired that nickname from the days he played for the Baltimore Colts when he was one of the team captains. Before a game against the Chicago Bears, the captains of the opposing teams were being introduced and the Captain for the Bears was Hall of Fame middle linebacker, Dick Butkus. The referee said, Captain Butkus, this is Captain Hawkins. Butkus blurted out, “Captain Who?” Prior to that, he was known as Captain Midnight, due to his late night escapades.
The guys who frequented Harrison’s were a loosely connected fraternity of drunks. It was fun to be with them, but you didn’t want to pledge.
To say Alex was colorful would be an understatement. After his football days with the Atlanta Falcons, he worked as the color commentator for their games (he was the only excitement that team had at the time). He was a sports reporter for a local TV Station as well.
When Hawkins was in the bar along with Lewis Grizzard and Ron Hudspeth, nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted the evening to end. Hawkins was in a class by himself when it came to telling side-splitting stories. This is the story that made the evening news and it is priceless.
Evidently, Hawkins stayed out all night, which wasn’t unusual for him. His wife was out looking for him and was unable to locate him. When he walked in the kitchen the next morning she screamed, “Where have you been?”
He replied, “I have been out in the hammock all night. The moon was so beautiful I didn’t want to leave it.”
“You don’t expect me to believe that, do you? We took the hammock down two weeks ago,” his wife said.
After giving her a blank stare for a few minutes, he quipped, “Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
That yarn started flying around Atlanta and immediately another parable was added to the legendary life of Alex Hawkins; it was reported on the local news stations and a song was recorded about it by country singer Collin Raye. He has a video on you tube. Here is the link if you wish to listen to it. It’s an entertaining song. https://youtu.be/BewKY_BpVXg
Alex played in an era when the money wasn’t crazy, but the players were. Most of them were just big kids who never grew up.
He turned 80 this year. Sadly, he is one of the oldest living professional football players and he is possibly suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, brain damage, previously referred to as dementia pugilistica because it was thought to exist mainly in boxers.
He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Green Bay Packers and he was just one of the many crazy characters that we were fortunate to meet at Harrison’s that made us laugh, and that’s a good thing.
In between reading Lewis Grizzard’s books, you may want to consider picking up “My Story And I’m Sticking To It,” by Alex Hawkins.”
You’ll be tickled.
Well, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

LEWIS GRIZZARD-ATLANTA-MAX FLY AND THE GOOD OL’ DAYS

 

 

The ’70’s and the ’80’s were wild times in the city of Atlanta. It was emerging from a sleepy southern town to an international city. Robert Edward ‘Outrageous Ted’ Turner was on the field, running CNN and the Atlanta Braves baseball team. As Outrageous Ted, he decided he could manage the Braves better than the current manager, so he fired him and took over the team, causing quite a stir in the traditional bourgeois baseball world. He had a way of staying in the news. He would say things like, “My son is now an ‘entrepreneur.’ That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.”
We also had Maynard Jackson, serving as Atlanta’s first African-American Mayor, and then there was our Peanut Farmer, Jimmy Carter, up in D.C. running our country, I guess.
Behind the scenes, we had a couple of local celebrities, journalists, one of whom was about to break on the national arena as a great humorist along the same lines as Mark Twain and I was growing old right smack dab in the middle of all this.
It was during this time that a group of us middle agers were desperately attempting to hang onto our youth. We formed softball and basketball teams and joined metro Atlanta “Adult” leagues to stay in shape, attempting, and failing, to compete with the younger bucks. That was okay, it was really about having an opportunity to get together and have a few drinks and burn off a little pent-up steam.
Some of us even carried it over to meet once a week, I believe it was a Wednesday, at a local watering hole on Peachtree Street in Buckhead. Today, for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you the name of the bar.
We would arrive around 4:00 p.m. and most of the bar stools were already taken. There was a group of local celebrities that hung out there; two being hard-drinking journalists, Ron Hudspeth who wrote for the Atlanta Journal, and Lewis Grizzard, who wrote for the Atlanta Constitution, two different newspapers that happened to be owned by the same corporation, Cox Enterprises. This was before these two guys became “Big” celebrities and authored books, chronicling their lives and times on Peachtree Street but they kept us laughing so hard, it hurt.
Hudspeth started a rag called The Hudspeth Report, one of those free papers you can pick up around the city. It’s filled with advertisements hawking everything and anything imaginable. Hudspeth would critique local restaurants and watering holes. This was a smart maneuver by him, as he was comped more than a few drinks and meals. I heard from an old friend that Hudspeth is still publishing this rag but now he lives in Costa Rica. I can only imagine why he is living down there.
Ron Hudspeth was fired in 1987 by the AJC for starting The Hudspeth Report, prompting his pal and drinking buddy, Lewis Grizzard, to resign in protest. Grizzard resigned on a Saturday and rescinded his resignation three days later. He said at the time, “I’ve quit four times, and this is the fourth time I’ve come back.”
I mean, why wouldn’t he come back? He was only writing four columns a week. What was not to like about that job? He was also syndicated in close to 500 newspapers around the country.
As they say in the rural South, Lewis Grizzard “dog up and died” in 1994. Wow, that long ago? Grizzard said one of his big worries was that “somewhere there is a great party going on, and I’m missing it.”
Well, the world is missing you, pal. He didn’t make it to 50. He was only 47 years old.
Here is the clip that brought back old memories and the many laughs we shared:

 

CEDAR KEY FLORIDA – JACQUI’S BOATING EXPERIENCE – WILL THEY ALLOW US BACK?

Deck at Harbor Master Inn Over the Cedar Key Bay Enjoying a Cohiba and a glass of Chianti wine

Jacqui and Max Fly just returned from a short vacation in Cedar Key, Florida, named after the Eastern Red Cedar trees that once were abundant in the area until they started using them to make pencils. In fact, from 1866 until the early 1900’s, Cedar Key was a major center for pencil manufacturing.

We posted some of the great pictures we took so you would have an idea of how idyllic the area is. Kids would be bored after about 5 minutes time spent on the key and that is one of its enduring features. They built this Key for fishing and that’s just what they do.

And restaurants? Well, let me say this, the drinks are good and the establishments open and close when they darn well please. Immediately to the left and across the water from the room we stayed in, is the back deck of the Black Dog Beer-Wine-Cigar Bar. As I was sitting on the deck, enjoying my morning coffee and watching the dolphins swimming about in a feeding frenzy, the guy who owns the bar stepped out on his deck for a smoke and I started up a conversation with him.

Black Dog Beer-Wine-Cigar Bar

“You normally won’t catch me up at this time of day, but I have some work I’m finishing up inside and I wanted to get it done,” he told me.

I asked him if his place was open now. The last time we were in Cedar Key it wasn’t.

“Yeah, it’s open, stop by between 4:30 or 5:00ish.”

Back Deck of the Black Dog Beer-Wine-Cigar Bar

We found out that all restaurants and bars on the key operate on “ish” time, or according to Jimmy Buffet, they are on island time. In fact, our bartender at Steamers said that most of these guys don’t even open the next day if they brought in enough money the previous night. They don’t care about the money, it’s the fish.

We stayed in the Harbor Master Inn, a place that features rooms built over the Cedar Key Bay. We were virtually surrounded by water with windows that gave us a fantastic view of the sunrise. When we sat outside on the deck, we were virtually over the water and the launching area for all the boats was right next to us so we were able to watch all the fishing boats as they came and went each day.

As mentioned, Cedar Key is a small fishing village. The population is about 750 people and all the residents know each other. By the time we left, they all knew Jacqui as well.

While there we rented a pontoon boat for a day. I thought I finally found a place where Jacqui could drive without having to worry about hitting something – the ocean; however, I was soon to find out that wasn’t so, as she barely missed a couple of the channel markers before getting hung up in some crab traps in a restricted area of Cedar Key Bay. We knew it was a restricted area because the guy standing on his deck, blowing a whistle and yelling at Jacqui to get out of there, let us know so – in a not too friendly voice, I might add.

The lovely Jacqui Hesse, a Pirate’s Mistress
Former Pirate Captain Max Fly

 We were in about 1.5 feet of water. We knew that because of the map of Cedar Key Bay, that the boat rental people kindly provided, indicated this. The problem was,  Jacqui ignored the map.

It was at this moment that she relinquished her captainship to Ol’ Max Fly, noted Private Eye and an old sea captain in his younger days. After trimming the motor and jockeying around all the crab traps, he was able to get the boat into the deeper water and out of shooting range of the irate man on his deck.

Big Deck Bar & Grill

 

Big Deck Coconuts

After our sea adventure, we needed some refreshment and Max decided to treat his lady to some island drinks at the Big Deck, a little bar and grill across the street from the Harbor Master Inn. The Big Deck features a picture of two big coconuts in a bikini top painted on the ceiling over the bar. It was placed there for all the old salty dogs who fall off their bar stools.

We spent the evening jawing with some of the locals, who still hadn’t heard about Jacqui’s little seafaring misadventure. Evidently, rumors don’t travel fast on Cedar Key.