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 what I have,” 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.
“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…”