Our first warrant was for a Henry Hill. According to our investigating, he had gone to a club with a woman out on the river. We rode out, but stayed slightly sheltered on the path. "Es peligroso," Chavez said. "Bad medicine, my friends."
"You got that right," Doc said.
"Hell, Doc," Steve said, "you grew up a whole lot worse than that, didn't ya?"
"Yeah, but I been cultured since."
"Ok," Richard said. "Henry Hill has supposedly been in there with a lady since noon. So, we're gonna show him the warrant, and take him home."
"Yeah, we gotta take him," Charlie said a little shakily.
McClowsky said, "I spose we do."
Richard pulled out the warrant and said, "Hey, Billy. Why don't you go in and have a look see?" Billy glanced around at us. "Go on, Billy. See if he's in there. If he is, bring him to us."
"Alright," Billy answered.
Richard handed the warrant to Billy, and he dismounted, then headed into the club. We waited for about a minute, then Billy came walking back out. He glanced at us, then walked around the corner to the outhouse. "What the hell is he doin' now?" I asked. A few moments later, Henry Hill followed Billy's footsteps. We all waited uncomfortably for the result. Suddenly, a gunshot rang out, and I jumped. Men started streaming out of the club, and bullets started flying. Billy came flying around the corner and jumped on his horse.
"What the hell did you do?" Richard cried. "We weren't spose to smoke nobody! We got warrants! We're the law!"
We rode out in a spew of dust and bullets, all the way back to Lincoln. The next day, our actions had made the paper. We were hiding out behind a building as Doc read it to us. "Nine men laid at death's door yesterday noon, victims of a gun fight between Lincoln resident Henry Hill, 45, and what patrons have called a kid. A local miner has identified the kid and one Henry McCarty, also known as William H. Bonney, 19 or 20. In a flaming shootout, the kid, Billy, killed Mr. Hill, then took on an onslaught of Hill partisans making the damage 6 verified slayings. Bonney is believed to be the captain of a deputized gang."
"Captain?" Richard asked.
Charlie answered, "Shit, Dick. You send a lamb into slaughter and he comes out a king sheep."
"El cibato. Billy the Kid, huh?" Chavez said.
McClowsky said, "Murphy's gonna want blood, brains, and balls for this."
"Good thing I ain't got them," I muttered. Suddenly, Doc started around the building. I jumped up and said, "Doc! Don't be stupid!"
"You know they're gonna be lookin' for us."
"I know. I'll be back in a minute." He shoved the newspaper into my hand and ran off. I shrugged and went to sit back down next to Chavez.
While we were waiting for Doc to come back, Billy went and leaned against the wall next to Richard. "So, Dick...who's next?"
Richard waited a beat before answering, "You."
Once Doc returned, we headed out to the river again. Two more of our targets were headed that way. We got there first and hid, waiting to ambush them. They came riding up a few mintues later. One dismounted, looked at the ground and said, "Shit."
"What's wrong?" the other asked.
"No, I mean I found some. Horse shit. Looks like a herd of 'em came through here early mornin'. Should just be over the ridge a bit. Should get a good profit out of that."
Chavez creeped up behind him and stuck a knife to his throat. "Not that good," he said. We all jumped up from our hiding spots, and aimed our guns at their hearts.
"Buenos dias, shitheads," Richard said.
"You don't understand, Dick," the man who was still mounted said, "by killin' Henry Hill, you all started a war."
"By killin' John Tunstall, you all started the damn war, Baker!"
"Just the same," the other said, "we're talkin' 50 or 60 men against your, what? 6 or 7? We're with the Ring, Dick!"
Billy walked up to him and said, "We're gonna bury you."
"Quiet, Bonney!" Richard ordered. "We're takin' you to jail. No killin'."
"Objection, your honor! These boys are goin' to the grave in the name of John Tunstall."
"I said quiet, Billy! I don't need that kinda talk! Law don't talk like that!"
"Yeah, well law don't kill innocent merchants, do we?" Steve responded.
"Shut up, dirt face," I called.
"I say we take these sons a bitches up to Capitan mountain and blow their brains out. What do ya say, Steve?" Billy called.
"Uhuh! Uhuh!" Steve said giddily.
McClowsky suddenly stepped up. "Hey, Billy, easy!" I glanced over at him, feeling as though there was something going on that I couldn't see. "Dick, I don't think we should go by way of Capitan."
"Why's that?" Richard asked.
"Well, I think Murphy will be watching every trail from here to Lampans. I think we should ride straight through to Lincoln."
Everyone looked around in silence, waiting for an answer. McClowsky glanced over at the Murphy men, and Billy said, "Hey, I saw that."
"What'd ya see, what'd ya see?" Charlie cried.
"He knows what I just saw!"
McClowsky backed away from Billy and almost ran right into me, but I shoved him in the back with the butt of my rifle. "What you talkin' about, Billy?"
"Where's the ambush, McClowsky? In Lincoln? You're trying to steer us away from Capitan because you know that your men, Murphy's men!, are waiting to take us in Lincoln."
"Billy, what you talkin' about?" Richard demanded. "McClowsky's with us. He's a regulator!"
"He used to ride with Murphy! That's what I'm talkin' about!"
"That was a long time ago!"
"He's a spy!"
"He's been with us! We made a pact! Right, McClowsky?"
"Right!" McClowsky said. "Jesus, Billy. Come on." He held out his hand to Billy. We all waited on baited breath as Billy stared McClowsky down.
Finally, he put his gun away and said, "Aw shit, I'm sorry, McClowsky."
"That's all right. We're all upset about John..."
"Sorry I didn't sniff you out sooner, you god damned traitor." He whipped out his pistol and shot McClowsky in the forehead. Blood and brain matter came flying out the back of his head and hit me in the face. A short scream escaped me.
"Billy!" Richard yelled.
"Billy, what the heck?" Charlie exclaimed.
All hell broke loose. McClowsky's body fell into the river, brushing me as it did. The two Murphy men tried to run off, so people were shooting at them. I couldn't do anything. I was frozen in place, trying not the feel the blood dripping down my face. Finally, when the Murphy guys were dead, Richard cried, "Moron! You're out of line, you son of a bitch!"
My brain suddenly clicked back into gear, and I said, "Richard, he was right! McClowsky was acting strange."
"Well, then that means we just killed three more Murphy men, right?"
Charlie moaned, "Oh, Brady's gonna hang us for sure now!" Steve started saying something.
Richard screamed, "QUIET! Everybody shut their fargin' lips for a god damned minute and let me think!"
"We better skin outta here," I said quietly.
Richard looked at my still stricken face and nodded. "Ok, everybody, skin up the river. Now!" He pointed his gun at Billy. "And you! You better stop believing the newspapers. You ain't no captain, and you sure as hell ain't no Robin Hood."
"Whatever you say, Dick," Billy answered.
Everyone mounted up and started off except me and Doc. He hurried over with a hankie and gently started wiping the gore off my face. "Hold still, Julie. I don't want it to get in your mouth or anything." Reluctantly, I let him finish. "There."
"Sure. Come on. We better catch up." We mounted up and rode off after the others.
A few days later, we were hiding out in the middle of nowhere, but we had managed to grab another newspaper before going out that far. Again, Doc was reading the article based on us. " 'Advices from Lincoln report the young lad of iron nerve apparently single handedly took out Morton and Baker of the Murphy gang. Including a miraculous shot of 50 yards.' There's a picture here. It says it's Billy, but it ain't Billy." I was sitting on the rock he was leaning on, so I leaned on his shoulder to look. Richard came too.
"Why...it's me," Richard said. "Well, that's bull shit. Papers can't get anything right." He walked off moodily as the rest of the guys came over to look. As Doc continued reading, I realized that Chavez had disappeared. It didn't worry me, but I was curious as to where he had gone.
" 'Sources say that the Kid is left-handed, tall, handsome, immune to the elements and the holier emotions.' Jesus Christ, it's got you pegged as a hero. 'Murphy, in Lincoln, has hired none other than John Kinny to hunt down the Kid and his gang.' "
"Great. John Kinny," Charlie muttered.
"Well, who's Kinny?" Billy asked.
"Says here he was soldier that suffered injury, but now he's got a gang of his own."
"Well, what's that mean?" Steve said.
"It means he can whoop some ass," I answered.
Richard called Doc over to where he was standing, so Doc left the paper with us. Charlie took it, and he, Steve, and Billy crowded around it. I just stood up on the rock I was sitting on to see if I could find Chavez. He was down in a little valley off to my right, scooping something up out of a snow patch. I watched him make his way back up, walk past Doc and Richard, then take a place by the fire. I jumped off my rock and went to join him. "What's that?" I asked when I plopped down beside him. He didn't answer. I just shrugged and watched him work. Later, after dark, he painted his face black around the eyes and along the jaw, and white everywhere else. We were all gathered around the fire.
"We have came to a place where we are lost, no? When an Indian is lost, he must reach into the spirit world to find the way. On the spirit road, he'll be shown a sign. This is the way to the spirit road. We're lost right now, but I'll find us the way." He took a drink of some kind of mixture he had made earlier.
Steve muttered, "Christ, Chavez. That's all we need, is more of your red ass Navajo mambo jahambo. We're runnin' outta time here, Chavez." I could tell that it took everything in him to keep Chavez sitting where he was. He passed me the cup. I sniffed it and automatically wished I hadn't. I refrained from breathing through my nose and took a gulp.
"Is that any good?" Charlie asked. I responded with a cough and passing the cup to Doc. "Hey, Chavez, what is that?"
"Peyote," Chavez answered plainly.
The cup made its way around the circle. The only person who didn't participate was Richard. By morning, we were all well under the effects of the stuff. Chavez was up on a rock, high above us, searching out a direction. Doc was off by himself muttering something about butterflies and flowers. Billy had flowers stuck in his hat and he was flinging his gun everywhere in his attempt to show off or something. Charlie was doing what looked like some kind of salutation to the sun, then promptly puked. Steve kept firing his shot gun crying, "You guys! Did you see the size of that...chicken?" My favorite, and I'm surprised I can even remember after all that, was, "Did you guys see the size of that cocka-doodle-god damned-doo?" Richard was staring at us all like we were crazy, and like he was wondering if he shouldn't put us out of our misery.
I was off away from everyone, laying on my back, and staring at the sky. The clouds were all kinds of colors and shapes, and I kept thinking I saw people in them. Chavez and Doc were the most popular, but then, Pat Garrett kept showing up. When I spoke, everything seemed slurred and slow. "What do you want, Pat? Go away. You're not supposed to be in my vision. Shoo!" I waved at the sky as if to dispell the cloud. When it didn't go away, I said, "Come on, now, Pat. Don't be stubborn. Go away! I'm not supposed to think about you. It's dangerous. I could wander away from Chavez. I can't do that, now come on."
I was broken out of my reverie when Richard called, "Regulators! Let's saddle up!" Then he muttered, "Godless heathens."
Steve responded with, "AAHHH! AAHHHH!"
Chavez came running down the hill and mounted his horse from behind. He let out this yell, and the only thing I could describe it as was feral. I loved it. I got on my horse a little sluggishly, and followed the column. I noticed that Billy had gotten on his horse backwards, and I laughed. I felt more lucid than any of them looked, but I knew I wasn't quite right.
About an hour out, we rode right through the middle of an Indian camp. They just stared at us. Charlie called, "Hey, Chavez! Why ain't they killin' us?"
Steve answered, "We're in the spirit world, ass hole. They can't see us!"
Finally, after hours of craziness, the effects of the peyote wore off. My head hurt, and I was left wondering if anyone had heard my ramblings about Pat. We stopped at a little outpost for some supper. Steve got assigned first watch, but the rest of us went in the building. We were all sitting at the table, waiting as Richard prayed over the meal. "Lord, forgive us for our wrong-doings. For our misguidance by heathen religions..." Chavez and I gave him a glare that he didn't see because his eyes were closed. "...Thank you for keeping us alive..." Billy tried to start eating, but stopped when Richard continued, "...Please help guide us to do the right thing. Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..."
"Please, Dick, it's gettin' cold!" Billy cried. They both drew guns. Billy definately had his out first and he knew it. "I coulda killed ya, Dick. I coulda killed ya."
I growled, "Can we not get through a meal without you two trying to kill each other?" No one paid me any mind.
"But I don't wanna kill ya. I wanna eat."
"When we finish this meal, you little rodent," Richard said, "You and I are goin' out in the yard, and we're gonna see who has the right to run this gang of regulators."
Doc broke in with, "Richard, would you be so kind as to pass the gravy please?"
Steve burst in the door and cried, "We got a man riding this way."
"Just one?" I asked.
Charlie got up and looked out the window. "It's Buckshot Roberts!"
"We got a warrant for him," Richard said.
"Think he's come to surrender?" Doc asked around a mouthful of food.
"Don't look that way," Charlie answered.
Billy asked, "He any good?"
"He's killed more people than small pox," I said coldly.
"Well, hell," he said while taking his gun off Richard. "Introduce us."
I sighed and shoved a bite of chicken in my mouth before getting up from the table. We all filed out. Roberts heard us coming and turned around, multiple guns in his hands and on his person. "We got a warrant for you, old man," Richard said.
"I ain't got no business with that war no more, you thick headed son of a bitch," Roberts said. "I'm on my own. I'm here to get that $150 Sheriff Brady's put out on Billy the Kid. The rest of you little shits is only worth $110, but I'll take it."
"What a sweet disposition," Doc said.
Roberts grinned. "Let's dance!" Bullets started hitting the dirt all around. I jumped behind a log pile with Richard, Billy, and Steve, but very quickly got distracted when Chavez flew back a bit and hit the ground, screaming.
"CHAVEZ!" I shrieked. He got himself behind a wagon with Doc. Then, against all logic and sense of self-preservation, I ran across the bullet-filled gap between the pile of logs and the wagon. Doc jumped up to cover me and got shot in the hand.
"Shit!" he cried.
I slid to a stop in front of Chavez. His head was leaning against his shoulder and his eyes were shut. "Chavez?" I cried.
He suddenly sat up and answered, "What?"
For whatever reason, the way he said it struck me funny and I chuckled. "Nothin'. Just makin' sure you're still breathing. Doc, you alright?"
"I'll live," he answered painfully.
The bullets stopped and I heard Richard say that Roberts had gone into the outhouse. He told Billy to go in and take him out. Billy started to, but then Roberts let loose again and Billy cried, "Screw that!" We all let off as many shots as we could, trying to take him down. Again, opposing fire stopped, and it sounded like Roberts was groaning from inside the out house. Richard slowly stepped out from behind the logs and approached the hut.
I glanced over the wagon just in time to see a gun barrel stick out of the door. "Richard, don't!" I screamed. It was too late. Roberts let off about three shots, all of them hitting Richard in the chest. Richard staggered, then fell. "AAAHH! Richard!" I yelled.
Charlie cried, "Hold on, Dick, we're comin' to get ya!" He tried to go out to get Richard's body, but Billy and Steve stopped him. "What are we gonna do? Dick just got his guts blown out! He was our foreman!" Billy ran off and got on his horse. I helped Chavez up and put an arm around him to support him. "Doc! What do we do?"
"This place is gonna be crawlin' with Murphy men! Get the hell outta here!" Doc answered. We all rushed to get on horses and skin out. I helped Chavez up onto his, then got on mine. All the way out, I rode next to him, holding out a hand to keep him upright if he started to fall.
Once we were a few miles out, we stopped and tried to figure out where to go. We finally found a little crater-like indention in the ground that was big enough for all of us and our horses. It offered good cover, so we stopped there. We all rode in except Doc. I looked up to where he was still sitting on the ridge. "Where to, Doc?" I asked.
"I'm goin' into Patricio if it looks safe. I gotta write Dick's mother in Vermont...and get some clean wrappings for this." He held up his bleeding hand.
"Well, whatever you do, don't go near Lincoln."
He nodded. "See ya."
I watched him until he was out of sight, then went down to join the others. We started a fire and I insisted on looking at Chavez's wound. The bullet had caught him in the side. It was a through and through with no major organs hit. "You were lucky, mi amore."
"I know," he muttered. I wrapped it, then left him alone.
About and hour later, Billy was sawing off part of his pistol. Steve asked him, "What you doin'?"
"Well, with part of the sight sawed off, we can get a good second drop on our friend, Sheriff Brady." He fired a shot at where Chavez was standing on the ridge. As he had said, the bullet dropped and fell short.
Charlie said, "Billy, we can't touch the Sheriff. Dick said so. You know that. Besides, we can't keep this up."
"Yeah, well, Dick ain't around anymore, is he, Charlie? And right now, Sheriff Brady is in desperate need of being removed from office."
"We're not going after Brady," Chavez said from the ridge. "No Murphy men. No more. I told you I would find the way, and the way is west."
"West, huh? Well, west is that way. And the bastards we gotta kill are the other way."
"The only bastards that are going to get killed are us, cibato. Let it go."
"Let it go? Murphy's taking inventory in Tunstall's store right now, and you're saying that means nothing to you?"
Slowly, Chavez turned around to face us. I could see on his face and in his eyes that Billy had just crossed a line. "It means nothing to me? Murphy and his politicians have taken more blood from me than they ever will from you."
"Oh, yeah? How do ya figure?"
"The Red Sand Creek reservation."
Billy turned to us. "What's he talkin' about?"
"Billy," I warned.
Chavez went on, "207 people butchered in the snow with their stomachs empty. My mother's people. You see, Murphy and Company was under government contract to supply us with beef. And two winters ago, he sent only rotten meat. No corn, no flour, only rancid beef crawling with worms. Well, I went out with a band in the night to a traders' camp to try and get food. Oh, yeah, they welcomed us in...and then they opened fire on us. I got away. Only me! But when I got back to the Red Sands, I found out that the Army had already heard about our 'big Indian uprising', and they paid us back. My mother was cut by a saber from her privates to her neck! My sisters were just babies, and they had their heads bashed in with boot heels, so the Army could save bullets! Everybody on my reservation was butchered, and it means nothing to me? Oh yeah. I went to Lincoln to take Murphy's head...and that when John Tunstall found me, and he took me in. And he taught me a better way to bury Murphy."
"Murphy buried him the ole' Irish way, Chavez," Steve said.
"That's right, Steve," Billy said. "And he starved out your family, Chavez. And now he's doing it to every small farmer in the territory. But, if you wanna run, you just go right on ahead. Go ahead. Bye. Got no loyalty, Navajo."
"Navajo!" Steve said. I had to resist the strong urge to hit him in the face.
"Your loyalty ain't worth a piece of chicken shit in the rain."
Chavez shook his head. "No. We did our ceremony back at the ridge, cibato. Now, I don't know what your vision told you, but mine told me we're headed for blood. Blood like a river. I'm the last of my clan. The last of my people. If I die, and I'm not afraid of dying, cibato...the sacred hoop is broken. Now, I have to go west and make my people live again." As he said the last line, his eyes met mine. They were asking me, hoping that I would choose to go with him. He descended the ridge and walked to his horse. As he did, I got up and went to get mine. I led it aside Chavez's and started tightening the cinch. I met his gaze and ever so slightly smiled. He nodded, then called, "Charlie! You coming with me?"
Charlie stood and looked between Billy and Steve. "Well, you ain't sayin' much, Dirty Steve."
"That's 'cuz he ain't got much to say, Charlie," Billy answered. "Ole' Steve understands the meaning of the word pals, don't ya, Steve? See, when you got 3 or 4 good pals, well, then you got yourself a tribe. There ain't nothin' stronger than that. We're your family now, Chavez. You walk away from us, you break our sacred hoop. We gotta stick together fellas. That's the only way I see it."
Chavez sighed defeatedly and looked at me. I shrugged and whispered, "I go where you go." He sighed again and loosened the cinch on his horse. I followed suit, and we went back to sit at the fire again. Very soon, darkness fell and it started getting chilly. I cuddled into Chavez's uninjured side. He put and arm around me, and we dared Steve to say something about it with our eyes. He wisely kept his mouth shut.
Charlie started going through some of Doc's stuff that he had left behind. In it was some of his poetry. "The Bird by Josiah G. Scurlock," he read. "Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered weak and weary, there came a knocking at my...back porch...He ain't very original, is he?"
"I'd like to see you do better," I muttered.
Charlie smiled a bit, but it faded. "He's been gone and awful long time. I have a feelin' he's gonna be makin' a run for it."
"Who? Doc?" Billy said. "Naw. Doc likes me."
I chuckled to myself. You don't know jack about Doc Scurlock, Kid. "Well, whether that's true or not, he'll be back. He wouldn't leave me hangin'," I said. Then, only loud enough for myself and Chavez to hear, I muttered, "I think."