Thursday, April 05, 2007

Be Quick,or Be Dead !

"Oh Lord, Sonora!
That's where it all began. I still get all misty-eyed when the little ones gather around me of an evening and say,"Grandpa,tell us about the way it was in Sonora that day.""Heh heh! You wanna hear it again,do you? Well,Pa, that be your great-grandpa, was just home from the war.It had been a powerful struggle up there in Pennsylvania,but it finally ended at that place called Point Lookout,Maryland. Pa had been captured at Appomattox just six days before Uncle Bob surrendered. Pa come home a mess.That Federal prison in Maryland was the curse of many a poor Confederate.Terrible living conditions.Not much to eat, and precious little medical care,or none at all. Why ,pa was a mess when he gotback to Sonora.Took a long time for me to nurse him back to health,what with all the rot and gangrene that had set in,but I did it all myself,me and thegood Lord, and a bunch of herbs Pa had told me about. Poultices and such,mostly.After he rested a few weeks and the healing was mostly done,hecommenced teaching me the arts of war, and gun-fighting with a six-gunmostly. Pa was a real pistoleer. Trouble was,he run out of bullets during the war.

I was just fifteen when pa up and died on me one hot,spring day.ThereI was, all alone in the meanest country you ever did see. Sonora was a beautiful place,but it was like living in a dusty hell most of thetime.Bad people drifting around to see what they could take if need be.I wasn't worried none though, for pa had taught me well.Folks said Iwas like a Texas whirlwind with a six-gun. Many was the time I had braced a pair of ducks flying North on the March breeze.I seen the dust a swirling around them shimmering figures a mile away.I knew trouble was brewing on that hot,Texas wind.Three of them best I could tell,what with all the dust the big black horses were throwing up.I was a mite worried.If they could get me with the sun in my eyes I knew I was gonna be in a mighty bad way real quick.I figured the odds was at least fifty-fifty,but ya never can tell what a man with a gun is apt to do..Three of them, and one of me, was about the same odds pa said it was at Gettysburg.I grabbed the frazzled old well rope and pulled up a bucket of that cool water so as to wash away the dust from my mouth.They kept a coming.

I pulled the pistol from my left holster and spun the cylinder one more time to be sure all five rounds were stillthere.I took another sip of that cool water, and then I drew my Navy Dragoon Colt and spun the cylinder on it."

"Grandpa,why did you only have five bullets in your pistols if'n they was six-shooters?"

"That was so's you wouldn't shoot your darn foot off if the gun was to fire accidental like.You never leave a round in the chamber."

Now,back to my story!

"I gently slid the Colt back in the holster, and then I nudged each pistol just a mite to free 'em up,make sure they would come out cleanand fast when I put my hands on them to begin my work in earnest.Pa always called it work. That's what General Lee, and GeneralLongstreet, called it. Pa picked up an education whilst he was withthem two fellows. I never told you all this part of the story,butGeneral Longstreet was the one taught pa to count. Yessir! A realmath whiz was General Longstreet. Why ,many was the time GeneralLongstreet would say,'General,' he was talking to General Leehere, 'General,the Yankees out number us again by three to one,'andGeneral Lee would always say,'well, that makes it about even ,don'tit General Longstreet'?"I could see their grimy faces clearly now in the midst of thebillowing dust.The biggest man was in the middle. He held his chestup high in the saddle. I knew from the steel in his eyes that I hadto kill him first. That ain't the way I wanted it.A man always needsthe odds in his favor on account of the unexpected,but sometimes itjust don't work out the way you plan.That's where luck comes in to play.The big mans horse stumbled on a rock just as he went to draw. Thatsplit-second was all I needed to do what pa had taught me so well.The pistol in my right palm was already barking,five rolling claps ofthunder split the silence of the desert morning before I evenrealized I was shooting.That's the way pa had taught me to shoot in a gunfight.Right toleft.Shoot the man on your right side first, and then move from rightto left.All three were knocked from the saddle by the heavy forty-four slugs. They hit the ground with a loud thud and a cloud of dust,as the terrifiedhorses reared in fright.It was still early morning,but darkness seemed to be closing in around me.
I stumbled forward to examine the corpses, but of a sudden I seemed to be in a darkest tunnel. My feet wouldn't move.I felt a stabbing pain in my ribs..."

To be continued...

I'm sorry about all the run-ons ,but google is driving me crazy tonight.


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