Beanie and Ike Cowboy Up

 

 

stallion-thunder-dsc_2976

 

Sometimes there are two rodeos, one inside the arena and one outside. No buckles are awarded for the one outside.
When the sun goes down the west Texas heat lets up a bit making it tolerable to sit outside at night and enjoy the quiet of the evening.
Beanie Franklin and Ike Stovall were sittin’ on the rail watching the stock eat the hay they had just thrown out. Ike watched Beanie as he took his time filling a blanket. He twisted both ends and licked the entire stick with his tongue before placing it in the corner of his mouth. He struck a match against his leather chaps, lighting the freshly rolled cigarette. He squinted as the smoke rolled out of the side of his mouth and drifted up into his eyes.
“That little one is fine as cream gravy,” Beanie said, as he exhaled a stream of blue smoke.
“Yep, but you don’t want to get by that boy’s ears,” Ike replied. “That gray one over there the horse you rode today?” Ike asked, pointing in the direction of a dapple gray gelding.
“Yep, he just didn’t seem to have it. He is just plum fagged out. Four years ago he bucked me off and hung me up and dragged me for a few trips around the arena before I learned saddle broncs and I don’t mix too well. Then I went bareback. That was ‘bout three years ago. He’s been around a long time. These damn small rodeos ain’t got the cash to bring in good stock like they should.”
“How’d that bareback work out for ya’?”
“Not much better. I got jerked down in the well and stomped on a few times. Now I do a little roping’ and ride pick up whenever I can land a gig. When you’re younger you live like the road goes on forever and the party never ends. But it ain’t long before you begin to see the bend in the road and you begin to fear what’s around that bend, the unknown.”
They both sat and let the quiet of the evening settle in while listening to the stock quietly chomp on the hay.
“Well,” Beanie said while standing and slapping his thighs, “if that sun don’t come up tomorrow, you’ll know I at least had a good ride. You hungry?”
“Yeah, how’s the food at that joint, the Crystal Cactus?”
“Purty good and so are the drinks. It’s a right nice place. They even give you eaten’ irons but it’s the afterclaps you gotta look out for. I was on the shitter all night the last time I ate there.”
They heard a gunshot, then another before the telltale crash of panels and a cry, “Get the horses saddled.” It was the night watchman, Felix Dunn.
“Who fired them shots, Felix?”
“A couple of ol’ drunks came ridin’ through here yellin’ and a cussin’ and firing their dadgum pistols.”
They looked up and watched as a corral full of bulls came running past, led by none other than Dirty Sam, one of the meanest bulls neither of them never rode and never wanted to.
“Did you see that? It was Dirty Sam. He lit out of town like his dick was on fire.”
“Well, let’s go git him.”
They grabbed their saddles and tacked up their horses and took off after a half dozen crazy-ass bulls as they left the fairgrounds toward the stockyards that ran parallel to the tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad.
Beanie and Ike were just about to catch up with the rest of the cowboys when someone yelled out, “There they are,” pointing in the direction of the levee road that snakes its way east toward Pumpkin Vine Creek.
They all turned and headed out at full gallop, the steel shoes of the horses throwing sparks off the asphalt as they rode in pursuit of the bulls.
As they got closer, one cowboy tossed his rope around Dirty Sam’s big old horns and proceeded to dally it around the saddle horn when Dirty Sam busted free, taking the rope with him while he headed back for the train tracks and a platform loaded with boxes with the rest of the bulls following him. As they passed the startled cowboys one of the horses reared, tossing its rider in the tall grass lining the road. The riderless horse took off in the direction of the bulls with the rest of the cowboys in close pursuit.
When they arrived at the platform, Dirty Sam proceeded to hook the boxes and toss them all over the yard while the other bulls stomped on the contents that spilled out on the ground.
A train whistle and the clanging of metal on metal startled old Dirty Sam and he turned and ran off across the tracks and dropped down. His left front leg got stuck under the rail and was broken and twisted grotesquely in an oblique and unnatural angle to the rest of his body. He was snorting and bellowing in obvious pain while the rest of the bulls, not knowing what to do or where to go, just stood there milling around.
“Well, one of us has gotta fix his flint,” Beanie said. “You been know’d to always carry an equalizer, Ike. You got a rifle in that scabbard?”
“Ya, I got one. Damn!”
“Just put it between his eyes and git it over with.”
“I can’t do it Beanie.”
Dirty Sam let out a deep moan and whipped his head back and forth slinging snot over Beanie and Ike’s legs and both their horses. His eyes were red and still filled with hate.
“Aw hell,” Beanie said, dismounting from his horse. “Gimmie your gun.”
The crack of the rifle echoed in the night. Ol’ Beanie’s eyes filled with tears.
“It ain’t right, Beanie. Dirty Sam shouldn’t have ta go this way. He was one of the best there ever was.”
About this time a couple of railroad dicks drove up in a white pickup truck with blue lights flashing on the top of the cab.
They saw the carnage and what was left of Dirty Sam and asked, “What in the cornbread hell is goin’ on?” the bigger of the two dicks asked.
“A little rodeo,” Ike replied.
“Well, who’s going to clean up this mess?”
“I reckon you should call the owner of the fairgrounds back there. We’ll take the rest of these bulls back and put ‘em away. They played enough for one day.”
“That’s it boys, the monkey’s dead and the shows over. Let’s throw a rope around Dirty Sam and get him off the track and get the rest of these boys back so we can go eat.”

An Old Cowboy Just Doesn’t Know When To Quit

Mustangs Rounded up by Helicopter copy-small-17

Ol’ Jughead Thompson and me were leavin’ outta Spooner, Wisconsin heading for Eau Claire for our next rodeo. It was 11:00 pm Friday, August the fourth and we had to be in Eau Claire by 10:00 am Saturday for the draw for Saturday night’s rodeo. We got a late start because we had to wait for Jughead to stop pissin’ blood.

I been knowin’ Jughead for going on thirty years now and I was hopin’ he learned a lesson in Spooner. At least he wouldn’t take a full finger tuck this time. He would play by the rules. Earlier tonight his bronc stood quietly as he pulled his riggin’. When he nodded, I opened the gate and he got wadded up into the gate. I thought they would give him another chance to nod but before he could get settled back in, that big flathead saw the crack in the gate and he blew out of the chute. His head, neck, and everything just disappeared as he bucked and kicked. For a moment ol’ Jughead actually looked like a bareback rider again until that damn flathead jerked the handhold out of his hand and it wasn’t long before Jughead was flat on his back. He was out for a few seconds and didn’t remember much when he came to. He said he recalled the horse’s head almost touching the ground and then the lights went out.

We picked him up and loaded him in my rig and then I went and got our horses and loaded them before we took off for the Spooner Hospital.

The doctor there in the ER wanted Jughead to spend the night but he didn’t want to forfeit his rodeo fee in Eau Claire, so we left. We no sooner hit the outskirts of town when I had to stop so he could piss out some blood.

My name is Bill Toft. My friends call me Buck, or when they are jabbin’ at me, Buck Toff. When I was younger, I rode saddle broncs and bare backs, but now I’m too old for that. No way I want to put myself through that pain anymore. My body hurts just gettin’ outta’ bed every mornin’

We arrived in Eau Claire in the middle of a heavy rain. Jughead drew #88 name of Widow Maker.

“I’m gettin’ on that son of a bitch,” Jughead declared.

“Don’t you think it’s about time you acknowledge the corn. You just ain’t made out for riding bucking stock. You have a lot of heart, little talent, and no quit in you. Like a bull, you don’t know when to quit. That’s a recipe for a quick death, little buddy. Let’s just stick to being pick up riders and hauling rodeo stock and leave the rest of this shit to the young ones. You ain’t going to like hearing this, Jughead, but…”

“Some things are better off left unsaid,” Jughead replied, glaring at me.“But you are going to say it anyway, aren’t you,Buck?”

“Yep, can’t help myself. If you do this, you will be sucking blended food through a straw for the next six months. Worse case, you’re going to end up in the bone orchard.”

“Hell, I still got some kick in me, Buck. I know I can ride this horse. Look at him. That horse looks dead.”

“So do you Jughead. I gotta say this, you lasting eight seconds on that horse is as likely as the Pope leading a gay pride parade.”

“Well, we’ll just see, won’t we?”

“Yep, common sense is like deodorant. The ones that need it the most don’t use it.”

“I assume you are referring to me?”

“Yep, Jughead, I am. Listen, if you feel yourself losing it, just choke that horn, will ya?”

“No way. Ol’ Jughead never has and never will be caught choking the horn. It just won’t happen.”

Well, that ‘ol dead horse threw Jughead ‘bout up to heaven and when he landed, he landed on his head before a hind foot from that bronc landed down on his chest.

I was looking down at Jughead in a crowd of cowboys and he gave me a warm smile as well as a thumbs up. Then I heard someone say, “Okay boys, let’s get as many hands as we can under him and lift him onto the stretcher.”

They put him into what I assumed was an ambulance. I crawled in after him and we took off. The driver was cursing as we hit some pot holes.

“I don’t know if I’m going to survive this one, Buck Toft,” Jughead groaned.

“You’re going to make it, Jughead. I remember that time in Noches, Texas, about twenty years ago, when you were in the recovery room and your spleen ended up in the operating room trash can. You walked away from that one. You’ll walk away from this too. From now on, we will spend our time spreading hay and hauling bucking stock, not trying to ride ‘em.”

Jughead nodded, smiled, and closed his eyes.

“You all right back there?” the driver asked, as the stretcher rolled across the floor and slammed into the side of the vehicle.

The ambulance driver wasn’t actually an ambulance driver, he was tending the beer tent and he had to close it down when they asked him to drive Jughead to the hospital. Actually, it wasn’t an ambulance, it was an old yellow cab and the driver was slurring his words.

“Damn, the gate is closed. Hey, girls, have them boys open that gate,” he yelled. I was sitting next to him. He turned around and was holding a can of Blatz Beer.

“How’s he doing?”

“Not good, he’s rolling around like a damned billiard ball,” I yelled.

“God damn right it’s rolling. We’ll get him there in no time. Now don’t let him die on me. He’s pretty old to be doin’ this, ridin’ broncs, ain’t he?”

“That’s what I’ve been tryin’ to tell him.”

Turns out Jughead didn’t last the ride. I don’t know if it was the ride on the bronc or the ride in that old Yellow Cab that did him in, but deep down in my heart, I know’d it was his stubbornness that finally did him in. He just didn’t know when to quit. I think the good Lord finally did him a favor calling him home but I sure am going to miss that boy.

Max Fly – U977 German U-Boat

UFO Athens Ohio 1965
UFO Athens Ohio 1965

 

Max Fly and Hap Schultz are recruited by an outed CIA agent who heads up a clandestine element of agents that believe that the JFK assassination was orchestrated by former Nazis and their boss, Allen Dulles and that it goes higher than that – much higher.
Max and Hap resurrect their rodeo career as the cover for their covert activities as they travel the circuit from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before they head to Mexico and finally South America as they search for missing Nazis. There, Max and Hap find themselves falling into a vortex of a bizarre hidden society and the unknown living hell framed by the Nazi Party.

In the beginning…

You work like a son of a bitch for weeks on end and nothing makes sense. You begin to wonder why you are wasting your time and your client’s money. You are confused and lost in a convoluted world of lies and misleading statements. But then one day it clicks. Somebody tells you something. You think of something you saw, read, or heard and suddenly, everything makes sense but here’s the kicker, most of the time you wish it didn’t. Because the things we are hired to figure out are some of the most revolting things in the world.
One day you wake up and find yourself thrust in the midst of other people’s flotsam and you wonder how you got there and that is exactly what happened to me. The story I’m about to tell you is true. It happened a long time ago and some of the details are becoming blurred in my old age. It all began in the winter of 1969, December to be exact, six years after the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Let me rephrase that, my involvement began in December of 1969.
The story of the Kecksburg incident begins at 4:45 PM, December 9, 1965.
From northern Canada to western Pennsylvania, thousands of witnesses described “an orange fireball tearing across the evening sky towards the southeast, followed by a trail of smoke. Thirteen witnesses included pilots spread throughout Ontario, Michigan, and Ohio. They were along the flight path of this bell-shaped object.
Once over Ohio, however, the object clearly demonstrated that it was not a typical meteor, nor a crash in the ordinary sense of “space debris,” for according to witnesses, it stopped, stood still “for a few seconds” and then changed its course towards Pennsylvania.
Then I got that phone call, the one that would change my life forever.

JFK Murder Solved – Fiction By David Hesse

He glanced at his watch. It was 11:45 pm and the street was still deserted. He had been standing there for fifteen minutes. It was a Sunday night and the buildings were dark. A lone streetlight cast shadows across the street and sidewalk and he watched the mist as the wind blew it across the yellow beam put forth by the light. It was remarkably quiet. Not a sound. Nothing!
Earlier that evening, the fog moved in and soon after the heavy mist began to fall. The tall thin-faced man pulled the collar of his trench coat up around his neck and pulled down the brim of his hat to keep the dampness out. Nothing about him drew attention. He kept an eye on the phone booth down the street. It was still empty. He reached into his breast pocket and removed a package of Chesterfield cigarettes. He tapped the package on the back of his hand and bent down and removed a stick with his teeth. He replaced the package in his pocket and removed his lighter. He spun the wheel, igniting the flint and a flame shot up momentarily illuminating his lined and haggard face. He hadn’t slept in two days. He snapped the lid shut and returned it to his pocket. The smoke he exhaled was lost in the thick fog that enveloped him.
He looked around. He didn’t see anything, but he felt it. He didn’t like the feeling. He stuck to the plan to make sure he wasn’t followed, but you just never knew. From experience, he knew he couldn’t trust anyone and it was one helluva way to live your life.
He glanced at his watch once more. It was 11:53. He took one last drag of his cigarette and flipped it in a nearby puddle. He listened to the brief hiss before the butt was extinguished.
He inhaled deeply and looked to his right and left once again to make sure nobody was around before he moved out. Hurriedly, he crossed the street to the phone booth. He stepped in and closed the door. A light went on. He wrapped his hand in his handkerchief and smashed the light, enveloping him in darkness. He lifted the receiver and dropped in a dime. He knew the number by heart and had dialed it many times in the dark. The phone rang once before it was picked up. There was complete silence on the other end.
The tall man said, “7-1-1-3-4. I’ve been burned.”
“Where are you?”
“Zone three, drop one.”
“Stay there.”
The line went dead.
He hung up the phone and took a deep breath. He lit up another cigarette and hungrily sucked in the smoke. His throat was raw. He had been smoking too many of these things. He opened the door and tossed it across the sidewalk. He reached under his coat and removed his gun, a 9mm Beretta. He chambered a round and put his hand and gun in his outside right coat pocket. Even though he dry cleaned the area he could never be too careful.
Quickly he walked to the corner and turned left heading toward an alley behind an old warehouse. He stepped into the shadows and waited. His mind wandered to his earlier conversation with Serena and he couldn’t erase it from his mind.
“Paul, she said, “I have the bona fides, documents that prove the CIA along with a German expat, one of those Paperclip Nazi’s, named DeMohrenschildt, a Dallas oil geologist and close friend of Lee Harvey Oswald’s, was in on the plot to kill John F. Kennedy and it goes higher than we thought. Paul, this makes me sick.”
It had been so long since anyone called him Paul, he had to pause for a moment to gather his thoughts. “Okay, put it together and meet…”
Was that a click on his phone, or hers? “Selena, did you hear that?”
“Yes, I have to go. I’ll meet you…”
Those were her last words. He heard her scream and a moment later an unknown voice came on the line.
“You’re next Paul. We know where you are.”
The line went dead.
It wasn’t long before a black Lincoln limousine pulled around the corner and came to a stop in front of the alley. The back door opened as it slowly rolled by and Paul jumped in closing the door behind him.
When he caught his breath he said, “We lost our Asset, Selena. They got to her this morning and they outed me. They called me by name.”
As they drove away his handler looked at him and gave him a scotch. “We are going to have to bring you in, Paul.”
“Why? I am about to tie this whole thing up. We got ‘em right where we want them. What we gathered isn’t chicken feed. It’s some serious stuff.”
“No, we don’t.”
“What?”
“Your swallow was killed last night. She was beaten and raped and dumped in the East River. They found her body this morning. She is currently at the morgue. Her apartment was trashed and her camera, typewriter, and files are all gone. Nothing.”
The tall man was quiet for a moment, taking this all in. If this was true, all the work he put together for the past year was ruined, compromised. Without supporting documentation, all he had was his word and he would be going up against some of the most formidable men in the world, not just the CIA but the President of the United States himself.
Paul threw back the scotch and looked over at his handler and found himself looking down the barrel of a silencer.
“I’m sorry Paul.”
Phatt, the sound of the silenced gun was the last thing Paul heard before the .22 caliber slug entered his skull, mixing up what was left of his brain. The slug didn’t exit his skull. It was the perfect caliber round for an execution.
He died instantly.

The Big “H” A Short Story By David Hesse

 

 

Hat and Boots

“We’ve been waiting for you.”
The sound of the blast had been deafening. Blood and brain were splattered against the mirror hanging behind the couch. One of the hinges on the door to the kitchen was blown off. Smoke and the smell of gunpowder filled the air. The guy who stood next to me was now in my grasp. I could feel the flutter of his heart against my hand as his life left him. His face had been ripped like canvas; whoever I was holding, would not have an open casket at his wake. I felt something warm running down my face; blood. I was shot. My left shoulder was also covered in blood, my blood. It oozed out of the holes put there by the rat shot fired from the twelve gauge sawed off shotgun in the hands of the person standing against the far wall. I heard the cha-chunk of another round being chambered. There were two of them. They were small and thin and dressed in black and covered in tats. They looked like kids, both were wearing white hockey goalie masks. Their eyes shone like black obsidians through the slits in the masks. One held the shotgun and the other held an automatic Tec 9 with a 32 round clip. Both weapons illegal. The Tec 9 since 1994. The sawed-off shotgun since1934. But that doesn’t matter. The bad guys still have them.
I was paralyzed and numb; frozen where I stood. The black eyes behind both masks stared at me. The one holding the shotgun pointed it at my face and squeezed the trigger.
I sit up in bed, drenched in sweat and gasping for air, another fucking nightmare. My body feels limp and I am unable to speak. My head feels like someone is applying hydraulic pressure to it. I don’t know where I am at first. I look around. The surroundings are unfamiliar to me. The furnishings are cheap. So is the television sitting on the maple dresser against the wall at the end of the bed. On the wall over the television set hangs a mirror. I see my face looking back at me. I hardly recognize myself. What I see scares the shit out of me. I look like a fucking zombie, an upright cadaver. I am pale and clammy. My cheeks are drawn-in; my breathing is slow and shallow and erratic. I feel for a pulse, it is erratic as well. I must have lost twenty pounds. I look at my hands. My skin and fingernails have a purplish-black color to them.
It all comes back to me slowly. I am an undercover agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency and have been for the past ten years. Now I am through. I wanted out for a long time and finally, they came for me. During those years undercover, I did some shit I would just as soon forget. I started on flea powder, the big H, about three years ago and that’s why they brought me in. That and the fact my cover was blown. I was told to stay away from the heroine, that blue magic. They said that it would kill me. I now wish it would have.
I was forced to shoot up by members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, better known as the MS-13 gang, considered by the FBI as the most dangerous gang in America. I think the FBI has that right.
I leaned over the side of the bed and vomited into the trash basket. It looked like it wasn’t the first time.
I smelled. I couldn’t remember the last time I bathed. My clothes were torn, threadbare and filthy. I couldn’t remember the last time I washed them.
I throw the bedcovers off and stand. My legs are shaky. I stagger into the bathroom and turn on the cold water, I throw it on my face before cupping my hands and greedily drinking. My stomach begins to toss and convulse again. I grab the toilet bowl and let it go. Nothing but yellow bile comes up. I can’t remember the last time I ate.
I flush the toilet and turn to leave and notice a prescription bottle on the counter. It says Buprenorphine. It comes back to me now. A woman brought me here yesterday and gave me this drug. It is supposed to stop withdrawal symptoms and my craving for heroin.
There was a knock on the door. I freeze and my heart feels like it will burst through my chest. My breathing is shallow.
The handle on the door turns slowly and I hide behind the bathroom door. I look out between the door and the wall and see a statuesque woman walk in with a purse over one shoulder and carrying a paper bag and two cups of coffee. She has short dark hair and is wearing a dark skirt and jacket.
Tentatively I walk out into the room.
“Where am I?”

THE CLEANUP HITTER By David Hesse

The well-dressed man standing in the window was admiring his manicure when he saw the young man walk across the parking lot toward the building. He shook his head in disgust and hoped he wasn’t making a mistake. He could see a cigarette stuck behind his ear. The young man was wearing a black leather jacket that had zippers all over the front and on the sleeves. It was open in the front in spite of the cold December day exposing his black t-shirt . His black pants were tight and high and he was wearing white socks and black loafers. He had his hair slicked and oiled back in what was the fashion of choice by all the punks. He was late.
The well-dressed man went behind his desk and sat down waiting for the young man’s arrival.
When the young man opened the office door he saw the man he was scheduled to meet sitting behind a large cherry wood desk. Against the wall was a matching credenza. Above the credenza was a large window overlooking the parking lot and the Wisconsin River. The young man took in the office and its surroundings. He looked out the window and noticed ice had started to form along the far bank, the current in the center of the river was too strong for any ice to form, at least until after the temperature dropped well below zero and it would have to stay that cold for quite some time. More likely to happen the end of January or sometime in February, if at all. It was only December 1st.
The desk was bare except for a black phone and one 9”x 12″ brown manilla folder that he assumed was meant for him.
He could tell the man behind the desk was a big man even though he was sitting. His head was large and bald and he was sporting a Fu Manchu mustache that traveled down the side of his mouth and around his jaw bone. It was a white blond. His skin was an alabaster white and his clear blue eyes were ringed in red, an albino he thought. He took a deep breath.
The well-dressed man squinted as he looked up at the young man.
“Close the door,” he commanded.
He did.
“What took you so long?”
“Traffic.”
“Fuck, ain’t no traffic.”
He didn’t say anything he just stared at him.

The big man asked him, “What’s your name?””My friends call me The Cleanup Hitter.”

“My friends call me The Cleanup Hitter.”

“So, I should call you the cleanup hitter?” The big man asked.
“I guess,” the young man replied.
“Okay then, let’s get to it.” He stood up and handed him a gun.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“It’s a .25 caliber” he replied.
“I don’t need it. I got a .357. Should do the job.”

“You need it. That fuckin’ .357 makes to much noise and will draw attention to you. Plus it’s messy.The .25 caliber is a hitter’s gun. You take it when you know it’s going to be a head shot.
“It’s a worthless gun,” he said. “I know a guy was shot on a Saturday night with a .25 and was back at work on Monday.”
“Yeah, well, you ain’t goin’ to no shootin’ match with this one. You are going to place the barrel up against the back of his skull and then pull the trigger. The slugs will ricochet around inside the head. It’s like putting the victim’s brain in a blender. When you finish you can drop it or take it with you. They can’t trace it. But, if you drop it, make sure it’s wiped clean. Make sure you get all your brass, though. Many guys got nailed by leaving partials on the brass.”
The young man looked at him and nodded okay.
“All right, then,” he said, handing the young man an envelope. “This has a picture of the guy along with his home address and where he works. Joey followed him for three weeks and we got every place listed that he went to. He’s got a little lady that works at Dinah’s Tap off Carson Street. You know where that is?”
He nodded his head again as he removed the contents of the envelope. There was an eight by ten picture of an overweight older man wearing slacks and a Hawaiian shirt along with three sheets of notebook paper documenting his daily routine for the past three weeks and $2500.00 in cash, all in twenty dollar bills.
“Who is this? I think I recognize this guy.”
“You don’t need to know. Just take care of business. The cash is yours. That’s half in advance and once it’s done, you’ll get the rest as we agreed upon.”
The young man nodded again. “So, this .25 caliber gun won’t attract any attention?”
“No, it won’t. I make more noise when I fart. Just get behind the bastard and pulled the trigger. The slug will do the rest. I’d pop ‘im again, just to make sure.”
The young man nodded again. “What did he do to you that you want him gone?”
“It’s none of your business. Your business is to take care of this. Make it clean, you understand?”
“Okay,” the young man replied as he put the $2500.00 in his pocket and picked up the .25 caliber. “I guess I better get this over with then.”
The young man placed the barrel of the gun against the big man’s head and quickly fired two shots at point blank range into his skull.
The large man fell forward over his massive desk. His eyes were open with surprise etched on his face. It was turned to the side and blood was pooling around his neck and down the back of his suit.The young man said, “You were right, this little gun is real quiet and that second slug just to make sure was a good idea.”
He bent over the body and said, “I think I can hear them slugs ricocheting around in your head cocksucker.” He stood up and looked at the .25 caliber gun. “I think Joey will be surprised to see this, don’t ya’ think?” He chuckled as he put it in his jacket pocket while grabbing the cigarette from behind his ear and popping it in his mouth.
“Damn, I forgot my lighter,” he said as he walked to the door.
The young man stopped and was about to open it when he turned back and said, “Oh, I almost forgot, the brass, and by the way, my pa said to say hello. He wanted his picture back.”

Beach Encounter

 

Harbor House Cedar Key

 

My Dearest Dulcina;

It is hard to believe that it has been six months since we met on the white sands of the Cape Sable beaches. The first day I saw you I watched as you provocatively stretched your lithe body on your blanket in the sand, and later when you walked by with your two small daughters, the fragrance of your perfume captured my attention.Your little girls are so charming and there can be no doubt where their golden blonde hair and crystal blue eyes come from; they look like miniature porcelain dolls; miniatures of you, my love.
I have been unable to sleep. I lie awake at night, thinking of you and that last enchanting evening we shared while walking our dogs on the beach; when we sat at the water’s edge, digging our toes in the sand while we watched the water break along the shore and how the stars sparkled and danced in your eyes; when we talked about our dreams and our lives and how unfulfilled we had become and how we let it happen. We both knew it was fate that had us find each other that euphoric night, as our dogs scampered along the sandy beach.
When we stood to go and our shoulders touched, you glanced at me and your eyes penetrated my soul. You smiled; how quickly my lips descended upon yours and your body surrendered to my trespassing hands and the soft thrust of my tongue. How we both wanted more but…

The letter arrived that morning. Her heart fluttered as she read it and her knees weakened. She had to sit down. She too had been unable to get that evening out of her mind. Was it the allurement of the moment, the musky smell of his masculinity as he drew her into him while they stood, alone, under the stars? Many times over the past few months while she worked alone, cleaning the house, she contemplated what it would be like to give herself to this handsome stranger. Was it merely a lonely woman, lusting for something that was missing in her life, or was it more? Could it be more?
She couldn’t deny the response of her body when he touched her and how quickly she yielded to his demanding kiss, wanting more.
He enclosed a key, a key to his motel room. He told her he was in town on business and that he would be there for the next week.
She clutched it to her chest. Should she go? Dare she go? She couldn’t believe how nervous she had become. If they had been alone on that beach, how far would that first kiss and touch have gone?
Something stirred in her. She had to find out. She would go. If he wasn’t there when she got to the room, she would wait for him. She would buy a new negligee and underwear, sexy underwear.
Her husband and girls were at a father-daughter function with the church youth group and wouldn’t be back until the next evening. She was alone. She needed someone; someone to hold her, make her feel wanted; make her feel special.
She drove into the motel parking lot and parked in front of the door with the same number that was on the plastic key holder he sent her. There was a new BMW convertible parked next to the room. It must be his, she thought, as she climbed out of her car. The sky was dark foreboding, threatening to open up with a heavy rain; at odds with that magical evening on the beach.
She inserted the key and was about to turn the door handle when the door flew open. There he was, standing there, shirtless in tight blue jeans, the muscles rippling on his flat stomach. Her heart fluttered, her knees became weak again. He was intoxicating. She wanted him and was so glad she came. This was going to be special. Something she could remember for the rest of her life. He gently pulled her into the room and closed the door behind her. He took her purse and placed on the table next to the bed and turned her around. He pressed his body into hers and kissed her hard on the mouth. She felt herself giving into the desire of her body, the lust that had been building up for months; since that first kiss and loving embrace on the warm Florida beach so many months ago. He pulled back and she opened her eyes and gazed at him. She was startled. His eyes were calm but his stare was hard and his mouth was compressed and turned down at the corners. Something was different. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up and a cold chill washed over her. Was this the man she thought she could give herself too? Immediately she knew she had made a mistake. She had to get out of there. She turned to leave. But he reached out for her; he grabbed her arm and threw her back in the room. The back of her legs hit the bed and she fell.
She looked up as he stood over her, her breasts rapidly rising and falling. She began to shake. He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He grabbed her wrists and wrapped them in plastic straps, the kind the police use to restrain criminals. He climbed on the bed and straddled her body. He reached up and took a roll of tape from the bed stand and tore off a piece. He smiled down at her as he put the tape over her mouth. He shook his head as a muffled scream escaped her mouth. He pulled out a knife from the right front pocket of his jeans. He placed the point at the hollow in her throat. Fear covered her face. A small speck of blood bubbled up where he penetrated the skin. He turned the blade and cut down the front of her blouse, ripping it away from her body, exposing her black lacy bra. Next, he hooked the blade of the knife under the front of the bra and pulled it up, snapping the fabric away, exposing her small breasts. She noticed his breathing had become shallow and rapid, his eyes glazed over. It was at that moment she knew what her fate was going to be. She thought of her husband, Mitchell, and her betrayal of his love and trust. She thought of her two little girls and prayed that they would know better and not succumb to the weakness of lust and desire like she did; to be more careful and watchful. Who was going to take care of them; answer their questions as they reached puberty? “Oh Mitchell, I’m so sorry.”
She began to cry and then scream as the knife cut through her neck, severing her carotid artery. Her last thought was, “I wonder who is watching his dog?”

Arizona Ranger

He set up camp under a stand of Mesquite trees, gathering as many crooked shaped Mesquite beans as he could stuff in his saddle bag. They were durable and would store for years. Both he and his horse lived on them when he ran out of hardtack and oats while riding across the eastern New Mexico territory. He might need them again at some later date.

Coyotes like the beans and he saw three lurking in the darkness, staying outside the light cast from his campfire. He pulled out his rifle and fired off a round in the air, scattering them into the night. He respected Coyotes and wouldn’t harm one if he could help it.

The lonesome cry of a Coyote in the distance brought back memories from his youth when his grandfather, his mother’s father and a Comanche warrior, would tell him stories that were handed down from one Comanche generation to the next regarding the special powers of the Coyote. His favorite was about Clever Coyote who got the buffalo back from the monster who stole them. The monster stole the buffalo so he would have enough food to last forever.

Clever Coyote called all the people and all the animals together to figure out what they could do. No one had an idea. They were too afraid of the monster to think at all, but Clever Coyote figured out a way to get the buffalo away from the monster and that is why the Comanche say it is Coyote to whom they owe the buffalo and they give thanks to clever Coyote. The Comanche say if it had not been for the smart head and warm heart of one little dog, the Coyote, that horrible monster would have kept all the buffalo for himself forever.

He thought of his grandfather, a wizened and withered old man, still believing that story. He closed his eyes and fell asleep with a smile on his lips as pleasant memories of his childhood and his grandfather passed through his memory.

He woke to a raw wind blowing across his exposed face. The cold from the ground penetrated his back. He stretched out his six-foot frame to remove the kinks before reaching under his blanket to grab his boots. He let out a grunt as he slipped them on. He threw back the canvas bedding and stood up. He looked around before slipping into his shirt; pinned on the left chest was the silver Arizona Ranger badge with the word Sergeant engraved at the bottom. Next, he pulled up his suspenders and walked behind the stand of Mesquite trees and unbuttoned his fly and relieved himself. When he finished, he buttoned up and walked back to his bedroll and rolled it up. He placed his hat on his head and strapped on his gun belt holding his single action Colt .45 revolver. He tucked his Bowie knife into his right boot then he pulled on his white duster to keep the morning chill at bay. He reached into his saddle bag and pulled out his coffee pot and a package that contained what was left of the coffee grounds he purchased the previous week before he left Brushy Creek. He walked down to the stream and filled the pot with water. He noticed his buckskin horse grazing contentedly along the riverbank. The horse softly neighed as he watched the ranger drawing water.

He walked back to his campsite and grabbed a stick and stirred the ashes of what was left of the campfire. There were a few coals that glowed a bright red. He gathered up some twigs and leaves and started to rekindle the fire. Once he had it blazing, he placed a flat rock in the center and put what remained of the coffee in the pot and deposited it on the rock. He removed some hardtack from his saddle bag and bit a mouthful off and started to chew. He wouldn’t have a full meal until that evening. He had a long way to go before he reached his destination and he couldn’t waste time cooking a breakfast. Hardtack and coffee would have to do.

The coffee started to boil out the spout of the pot so the ranger grabbed a stick and removed it from the fire. He grabbed his tin cup and filled it with the steaming black liquid. The first swallow sent a jolt through the ranger’s body, clearing the cobwebs in his head that were left over from his deep sleep. A soft wind blew in from the North, causing the nearby Mesquite to softly bend and its leaves to gently caress one another. He could smell the rain in the air. If a heavy downpour was coming, it would make his coming ride difficult and dangerous as he had to negotiate Guadalupe Pea, known as Signal Peak, which was challenging enough when the ground was hard and dry; it became treacherous when wet. Before he reached it, he would be traveling through the northern part of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. The desert had plenty of Yuccas and agaves, Creosote Bushes and Tarbush, Prickly Pears and Mesquite. He knew he would find some grasses along the way so he could let his horse graze; time would dictate how long. He poured the rest of his coffee on the fire and kicked over the hot coals. It was time to go. He was looking for a man, a bad man.

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

Americans have always been fascinated by ghosts towns. A town often becomes a ghost town because its economy fails, or due to some form of disaster. Ghost towns exist in America from Montana to the southern tip of Florida.
One town, Middle of Nowhere, Texas, located in the middle of nowhere, is where Texas Ranger legend, known as Ranger Mike, is headed. He is looking for a femme fatale named Kitty Leroy, wanted for murder. But, when Ranger Mike arrives in the Middle of Nowhere, he encounters more than he bargained for. Could it be that ghosts actually exist?
MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that’s on its mind and can’t make itself understood, and so can’t rest easy in its grave, and has to go about that way every night grieving.
— Mark Twain

The sky was empty of birds and clouds. The sun beat down on the small town in the middle of nowhere. Tumbleweeds blew across the dry rutted street. The town hadn’t seen rain in months and everything was dried up. The streets were deserted as if the town was forgotten.
The tall stranger rode in from the East; the sun scorched his eyes. The wind bit at his raw and sunburned face. A stubble of beard ran from ear to ear; the lines around his mouth etched a story of a desolate and rough life.There was no sadness, no anger, and no emotion.
He shifted in his saddle and squinted into the afternoon sun. A film of water covered his coal black, hardened eyes, reflecting the light from the fading sun. His long scraggly hair hung in greasy strands from under his sweat-stained hat. His horse, a brown and white paint, was covered with dust. They had been riding for four days.
The stranger gazed to his left and right as he rode down the deserted street. The town was eerily quiet. Nothing moved, not even a stray cur.
A face suddenly appeared at the window of Maude’s Saloon and Hotel; but just as quickly, it was gone.
He dismounted and tied his horse to the post in front of Maude’s, the only hotel in town. A town named Middle Of Nowhere, because it is located in the middle of nowhere. The air suddenly stilled as if it was tense with nerves for what was to come and seemed to suck even the sound of his footfalls into the nothingness of the street. He stopped, and in the distance came hoofbeats of horses; getting closer, louder, he turned but saw nothing.
The wind picked up and whipped the white duster around his legs. He pushed it back, exposing the pearl handles of his two Colt .45 Peacemaker’s, each perched on a hip in a shiny black holster, adorned with silver conches, fashioned from silver dollars by a little señorita he spent time with down in San Antonio in ‘58. He removed his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow with a red bandana.
He turned and gazed at the sheriff’s office and the General Store; both were deserted. He removed his duster and folded it over his saddle, securing it with his quirt. The Texas Ranger Star pinned to his chest, shimmered in the late afternoon sun. He untied his saddle bags and threw them over his shoulder before removing his rifle, a Henry Repeater, from the leather scabbard on the side of his saddle. The smooth metal glimmered in the sun. He reached down and loosened the saddle’s latigo, allowing his horse to expand his belly and drink of the warm water in the trough in front of him. The stranger entered Maude’s. He walked to the check in counter and ran his finger across the surface; it was covered in a carpet of dust. A pen sat in a dry inkwell and next to it was a small stack of the most beautifully embossed notepaper he ever laid eyes on. He turned around. He felt a chill in the air, a shimmer of mist, something.
He noticed the curtains rustle as if blown by the wind, but there was no wind. The curtains were made of a delicate white lace, embroidered and fringed in crimson cloth, covered with cobwebs, and yellowed from the constant exposure to the hot West Texas sun. The fixtures were expensive and lavish. Dust covered the lampshades, chairs, tables, and divan, as well as the burgundy and gold inlaid Persian rug on the floor.
He laid his saddlebags and Henry Repeater on the counter and rang the bell. There was no response. He didn’t expect one.
He heard a scraping noise, like a chair being slid across the floor. He glanced to his right and saw a form that shimmered and waved, it appeared and vanished, there one moment, gone the next. It wasn’t ghostly, not transparent in any way or frightening. It was some kind of an apparition. He shook his head and turned and walked into the bar. Chairs had been stacked on all the tables; dust and dirt covered the bar and floor. In the middle of the bar, there was a mirror, framed in gold, hanging on the wall. Above it was a picture of a woman, covered in a gauzy dress, draped over her reclining body while sitting in a carriage being pulled by two stallions, one white, one black. It appeared like she was smiling at him. He tipped his hat and smiled back. The bar was long and made of mahogany. At one time it must have been polished to a splendid shine. A tarnished brass foot rail encircled the base of the bar. A row of dusty spittoons was spaced on the floor next to the bar. Along the ledge, towels used by the patrons to wipe the beer suds from their mustaches still hung. In the middle of the bar sat a half-empty bottle, alone and corked, with a glass next to it. He picked it up and pulled the cork with his teeth. The pop of the cork leaving the bottle echoed in the empty room. He put his nose to the bottle and inhaled. “Smells like tequila,” he mumbled and wiped the dirt off the top. He poured two fingers in the glass and held it up in a salute to the lady staring down at him. Did she just smile or was it his imagination? “I need to wash down some of that dust in my throat. I have been ridin’ for four days. Left Nogadoches last Friday. Come lookin’ for a lady; heard she was in the Middle Of Nowhere. I thought that was a joke the first time I heard it.” He chuckled. “Don’t look like she’s here. Looks like nobody’s here; just you and me. Well, here’s to your health, if it ain’t too late,” he said with a grim smile. He threw back the drink and shook his head. “Wow, I drunk some mighty strong stuff in my day, but you got something here, Miss, and it tastes very good. I might have me another; I hope you don’t mind?” he said, as he poured a generous portion into the glass. He threw it back and shook his head. “Damn, that’s mighty good. Tastes like Cactus Wine, tequila and peyote tea, Is that what I got me, Miss? Stuff can kill a snake.”
He poured another and lifted his glass to his nude lady friend, hanging on the wall.
Before he could throw it back, he heard a voice ask him, “What’s your name ranger and what are you doing in the Middle Of Nowhere?”
His hand dropped to his hip and he turned around; no one. He pulled out one of his Peacemakers and looked behind the tattered curtains in front of an elevated stage that was by the far wall behind him; nobody there. He returned to the bar and finished his drink.
“Musta been my imagination,” he said to the naked lady in the carriage over the bar. “Name’s Mike. They call me Ranger Mike. I come lookin’ for Kitty Leroy, one of the best poker players in the West. She also dances; started at the age of ten, they say. I heard she was sittin’ at one of them tables over there,” he said, pointing at the round tables in the corner with six chairs turned upside down on each of them.
“She’s from Michigan. Know where that is? No? Well, neither do I. She worked dance halls and saloons from Chicago to Houston before she supposedly ended up in the Middle Of Nowhere. Along the way, she picked up some other skills, specifically, I heard she’s savvy with a gun and knives. Heard she would shoot apples off her husband’s head. She got restless, I guess, and wanted to take her show on the road, so she headed for Texas and left her husband behind. By the time she was 20, they say she was the most popular entertainer in Dallas, but she gave up dancing to become a faro dealer and was knowed to bring knives and revolvers to the faro tables.”
“What did she do that makes you come lookin’ for her?”
“Killed a man, they say,” the tall Ranger answered as if the voice was coming from someone standing next to him at the bar, but there wasn’t anyone there. The stranger acted like it was as normal as could be, that he would be, talkin’ to a voice coming out of nowhere.
He swung around and looked over the empty bar again, his eyes squinting in the sunlight, slicing through the window.
The Ranger stared at the lady lounging in the horse carriage on the wall and said, “I think I better sit down. This here stuff is going to my head. Ain’t had much to eat but Pecos Strawberries for the past four days. That’s beans in case you don’t know.”
“I know what Pecos Strawberries are, cowboy,” the woman’s voice replied.
The tall Ranger shook his head and said, “This Cactus Wine is hittin’ on an empty plate.” He picked up the bottle and glass and went to the table in front of the stage. He took down a chair and was about to sit down when he heard a woman’s voice ask, “Mind if I join you? We won’t be gettin’ busy for another two hours and I sure am working up a thirst havin’ these two stallions pullin’ me around town. I sent out invitations to all the principal gentlemen of the city, including the tax collector, mayor, aldermen, judges of the county, and members of the legislature. A splendid band of music will be in attendance. I hope you will stay and join us.”
The tall stranger’s jaw dropped as he saw an apparition of a woman in a translucent and silky dress, step out of the picture and float to his table.
“Offer a woman a chair, cowboy?” she said.
“Why, why, yes, yes, of course; here, take mine.” He stood up and pulled out his chair for her and she sat down. “Are we going to share that glass or are you going to get me my own?” she smiled.
“Well, of course, where are the glasses?”
“Behind the bar,” she replied.
The tall Ranger found a dusty glass and was using one of the bar rags to clean it when he saw the figure of a man, walking on air, materialize out of nowhere; a man he knew quite well, another Texas Ranger, William Alexander Anderson Wallace, known as Big Foot Wallace, a rough and tumble frontiersman. They rode together with Captain Jack Hay’s Texas Rangers.
Wallace sat down next to the lady and turned with a far-reaching smile, Cheshire-cat like. Ranger Mike watched him, transfixed, waiting to see if he would speak. At last Big Foot Wallace opened his mouth, but instead of words, he set in motion a stream of thoughts from his mind to the Ranger’s; thoughts of days gone by.
“Crazy? I’m not crazy,” Ranger Mike said. But he couldn’t move his hands. His head was clear, no trace of the “madness” that he could tell; but he couldn’t budge. His back began to hurt from the top of his spine to his tail bone. His mouth was dry and his heart was pounding and felt like it was ready to explode, his eyes scanned left and right for signs of someone or something to make sense of all this.
What sort of hell am I in? I knowed Wallace and he was never one to repeat the same story twice; I was with him in Mexico when we participated in what was knowed as the “Black Bean Incident.” It was a lottery where 159 white and 17 black beans were drawn from a crock to determine which men would be executed. A black bean meant execution; a white bean meant prison. Wallace, always the non-conformist, drew a gray bean. The Mexican Officer in charge determined the bean to be white and Big Foot was spared death. We survived an 800-mile march to Perote prison in the state of Vera Cruz. Once Big Foot Wallace went without water for six days and then drank an entire gallon at once. We attempted to stop him, but he fought us off and collapsed in sleep. We never expected him to awaken but he did, the next day, refreshed and famished for the remainder of the mule meat he had been living on.
The last time I saw him was on Rattlesnake Ridge, outside of Austin. He went South and I went West. I sure as hell didn’t ‘spect ta see him sittin’ here.
“Why are you here, Big Foot? Lookin’ for revenge?”
“No, Ranger Mike, I’m here to see a friend.”
Ranger Mike heard laughter and voices coming from the hotel lobby. A group of “painted ladies” wearing make-up and dyed hair, floated into the bar. They wore brightly colored ruffled skirts that were scandalously short. Under the bell-shaped skirts, their legs were covered with net stockings, held up by garters; their boots were adorned with tassels. Their arms and shoulders were bare, their bodices cut low over their bosoms, and their dresses decorated with sequins and fringe. All were armed with pistols or jeweled daggers concealed in their boot tops or tucked between her breasts, in case they needed to keep boisterous cowboys in line.
One of the ladies with beautiful red hair, twisted into a bun on top of her head and held in place with red and white roses, sat down at the table next to Ranger Mike. She wore a shell pink chiffon gown, complete with sequins and seed pearls, imported from Paris.
“That’s one purty dress, madam,” Big Foot Wallace said.
“Why thank you; I was buried in this gown with much pomp and circumstance, the funeral parade was led by the Elks Band. They played the Death March and were escorted by four mounted policemen. Carriages followed filled with business men, girls from my house, “The Row,” and many miners from the camp. My casket was lavender and covered with red and white roses They buried me at the foot of Mt. Pisgah Cemetery at Cripple Creek Colorado. It was a lovely way to dispatch me.”
“They dispatched me in San Miguel Creek. That’s in Frio County,” Big Foot said. “I lived on prickly pear and red pepper and followed my own cow with a dog for a living and ain’t nobody played the Death March for me and I ain’t much for roses, ‘cept the Yellow Rose of Texas.”
“And what’s your name?” Pearl asked, looking coyly at the tall ranger sitting to her left.
“Folks call me Ranger Mike,” he replied.
“Well Ranger Mike, my name is Pearl de Vere. I come from Cripple Creek Colorado and I come here to have some fun. Wanna dance with me, Ranger Mike?”
Ranger Mike looked up and saw the full orchestra appear on the stage and all the painted ladies were dancing with cowboys. The judges and the mayor of the city, Middle of Nowhere, were also present and dancing. They were all floating across the dance floor while the orchestra played “The Yellow Rose of Texas”.
Big Foot Wallace was smiling and dancing with the lady from the picture over the bar.
Suddenly, the music stopped and everyone on the dance floor turned and looked at the door as five cowboys entered and encircled Big Foot Wallace. The lady he was dancing with faded away and the rest of the dancers shimmered away in a smokey mist. The five cowboys were close to Big Foot in height. They called him names, but then they pushed him and the leader poked him in the chest. Big Foot held it back as long as he could, his veins swelled, he smiled; it didn’t reach his eyes. It appeared he was waiting to explode; then he did.
Big Foot grabbed the hand that poked him and bent it back to the cowboy’s chin while punching him in the stomach at the same time. One cowboy grabbed Big Foot’s left arm. Big Foot whirled and landed a blow solidly on his jaw, right below his eye. He went down. Two of the other three held Big Foot’s arms while another cowboy hit him in the stomach twice. Big Foot kicked the cowboy solidly in the midsection, knocking the breath out of him. He bent over but didn’t fall. When Big Foot kicked the cowboy in the gut, he pushed the others back and they all went down.
Ranger Mike stood up and entered the fray. One of the cowboy’s was on all fours, and Ranger Mike kicked at his chin and landed a hard one on his head. The other cowboy was up and ran at him to tackle him. He stiff-armed the cowboy and pushed him to the ground. While they were regaining their balances, he pulled out his guns. He turned and he saw Big Foot Wallace standing there, smiling.
“Thanks for the hep, pardoner,” Big Foot said, as he held up two of the cowboy’s who were still knocked out.
Ranger Mike nodded and turned and came face to face with the cowboy that he stiff-armed. He had pulled his gun and was pointing it at Ranger Mike’s gut. The cowboy’s eyes were hard-rimmed and fixed like they’d rusted into place. Ranger Mike could not see the whites of his eyes nor the vessels that flowed through them.They contained a greater darkness then any night Ranger Mike had witnessed. His fingers curled tightly around the triggers. He smiled and then he fired. So did the cowboy. The gunshots cracked in the air as loud as thunder. The cowboy dropped to the floor.
Ranger Mike looked at the cowboy lying dead on the floor. There was no spark left in the cowboy’s eye, the blood pool darkened around the stain on his shirt and spread from his stomach to the floor. The cowboy lay as lifeless as a cadaver and just as pallid.
Ranger Mike’s pulse was thready and his hands were shaking so badly, his guns slipped out and landed softly on the body, before falling to the wooden floor. But Ranger Mike was no longer watching the guns. Or even the body. He was watching his own pale hands, covered with scarlet blood, his blood, oozing from the wound in his gut, deep and warm.The pain throbbed. It felt like someone had their hand in there, squeezing his organs as hard as they could. When it waned he could move and he stumbled, when it returned he could only hold still and breathe, breathe slow and deep until it passed. There was no blood anywhere but on his hands and his abdomen which turned purple and lumpy where it should be smooth. Every step felt like a bomb exploding in his innards.
His breathing was ragged, loose hair fell over his features that contorted with pain. Silently he crumbled.
The next thing Ranger Mike saw was Big Foot Wallace bending over him. He wasn’t illusory, or frightening. He was like spectral, ghostlike. His skin was as brown as acorns and his plain black cotton pants were held up with black suspenders and his ranger star was pinned on a stained white undershirt. His beat up hat was pushed back from his face. He held out his hand toward Ranger Mike in a gesture of friendship. “Come along now, Ranger Mike, it is time for us to go. Captain John Coffee Hays needs our help fightin’ that Mexican General, Adrian Woll, down San Antonio way.”
Ranger Mike smiled and nodded. He looked down and saw that his gut was no longer bloodied. The pain he felt had turned to an unpleasant warmth and then disappeared. His body then elevated from the floor and floated out the door with Big Foot Wallace. They mounted their horses and rode south, toward San Antonio, traveling to meet up with Captain Hays and his contingency of Texas Rangers.