JUST A DOZEN MORE
By Jonah Lissner
Copyright 2005 by Jonah Lissner. All rights reserved.
Wilson ducked his head behind the saguaro; the sand bit into his chin, better
than a bullet through his head, he thought. His high cowboy had was a sure tick
off to the federales, and his .44 revolver sat snug and hot in his fists, all hot
The blue-shirted men fired off their revolvers, and one had a rifle, though Wilson
didn’t care. The wads of cash in his dungarees, which hadn’t been washed in
days, were so well-hid he could walk into and out of a whorehouse without a
second glance. His stubble grew hot and sweaty on his strong jaw, and the visor
dimmed the sun. Bang! Another shot skimmed by his hat, leaving a nasty bite.
He’d have to buy a new one when he got to town. He never thought if he got to
town, only when.
He had spent five years as a robber, shooter and all around snake-in-the-grass,
since he’d been left in the stockades for a crime he didn’t commit and had no
plans of committing. Abilene, Texas. He’d never forget the sound of that
platinum-haired woman of the West. A woman that hated his guts.
Wilson crouched and fired off two shots, turning the hand of a federale into red
blossoms, coating the sandy desert floor. The other’s shoulder was grazed; he
was a crazy one, a lifetime member of the world’s worst bunch of bandit
and crooks, namely this federal army run by some fat man in a sombrero. At
times he couldn’t tell if he was in another land, but he didn’t much care.
The brown-haired raider had robbed a stage-coach, but not just any stagecoach;
one with a golden seal on its hide. Once he crossed the border he would blend
into the crowds of ten-thousand men just like him; and enjoy a life of dignity only
afforded to the rich, the gentlemanly and the well-coiffed.
He grit his teeth and fired at the charging man, crouching up to half his rangy
height, his sodden-wet shirt flapping sweat in the thin wind. He had two shots left
in his dual death-dealers, and he emptied both into the charging man; his big
iron chest took both; his black hair erupting from his chest, blazing beady gaze
and ruddy, unkempt beard slobbering for a kill.
His grip was terrible, and Wilson struggled, dropping his pieces. The federales
had smoked him out of his cabin some two miles distant, toward the mountains;
and he had led them to this place, taking two of the filthy men to their places at
the pearly gates of St. Peter.
The big man’s breath was wicked; and Wilson stepped on his dusty boot, and
shouted, elbowing the man in the groin; he huffed, and the rangy rider pulled his
bowie knife like a good clear song, taking the salty guts of the navy-suited
killer on a joyride.
Just twelve foot away was the border between Texas and Mexico. That’s 12 eggs,
12 tribes and twelve steps to Jesus, thought Wilson.
The knife sang and squelched, and the big man’s wicked grip crumbled. Wilson’s
shoulders crackled and crumbled, and he limped as the carcass fell to the
unforgiving heat parquet like a dead weight.
He felt a weight - he couldn’t move. The three-hundred pound burly goon with a
gold badge, white coat and arabee horse held his right foot. Wilson had seen his
way out of a hundred fights, but never so close as this one. Ten thousand
dollars and a whole lot of freedom. The dons and donas of the old country
wouldn’t give a damn about a few loose pesos and doubloons, but he sure would.
He’s been ducked at tossed round, beat a man at poker in Dodge City that left
him blind for a week -- though the old man lost his two front teeth in the
transaction - and now twelve measly steps between him and freedom.
Marston had gone and went ten days before, before the scam was set. He had
lost his cool, having bad dreams of big black horses and blue-suited killers. The
senorita Wilson had wined and bedded would never tell a soul. Or so he wished.
The sun was merciless; steaming hot. The only generosity God gave in this hell
was the cactus and water. The sound of horse-beats clambered over the dry floor.
Wilson heaved himself upward, searching the fat man frantically for a gun - a
gentleman’s derringer. Even the dead fellow had a sense of humor.
The beady gaze under the dark hats; their dark faces and tanned skins like some
demonic riders from the depths of hell.
“Es todo, gringo,” said one, his serpentine features glimmering with sweat. He
leapt off the horse, his new boots squeaking as he walked closer to the pinned
Wilson. “That’s not so nice to steal other people’s dinero, eh?”
Wilson grinned, his teeth pearly white. “I may have something here - something
you may want,” he explained, his sure voice gravely from the heat. “What’s that,”
asked the federale. The other one, with the reddish and strong features of an
Indian, was silent, his hunting rifle square across his stocky arms. The mountains
and ice blue sky were as morose. “C’mon closer and I’ll tell you,” said Wilson.
The federale cocked his piece, and aimed it. “Dead or alive. I choose not alive.”
Bang! Two shots rang out. Wilson knew he was worthless alive, too small-time
for a show trial. Just another chump of a tumbleweed.
The heat grew, and the sun grew, and a big blue thing fell atop him. Blood. Dead
federale. He pushed the foreigner; lighter than he expected, and looked up to see
the Indian. “I’m one-quarter Comanche, if that matters,” pleaded Wilson.
The Indian said nothing. Wilson could feel the cash trickling wet with blood and
sweat. In another twelve hours, the wad would be next to worthless. The
horseman’s red face twitched, but he said nothing.
He turned to ride. Wilson aimed the derringer -- two shots. The round pierced the
air toward the direction of the rest of his compadres lost to siesta. A round red
welt appeared in the neck of the Indian, and grew. He slumped onto the head of
the horse, which began bucking, galloping furiously toward the trail and the
Twelve steps. Wilson shouted and pushed, heaving the dead weight from his
chest, and with the gumption borne of simple desperation, the dead fat man
oozing blood and guts.
He stretched to his full height, like a rangy rider, his brownish-blond hair shining
in the hot sun. He doffed his shot-up hat, wiped off his arms and trousers, and
patting his pocked twice for good luck, trotted toward the sands of El Paso.