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(Book Selection) San Carlos Crossing - IV

The Winchester Model 97 Riot Gun Finis cradled across his pommel held 5 12 gauge shells in the tubular magazine below the 20 inch barrel and one more in the chamber.  The shells were loaded with #4 buck —  28 lead balls almost a quarter inch in diameter in each shell would exit the shortened barrel at over 1300 feet per second when fired.  At 20 yards or less it was decimating;  anything breathing was reduced to sausage meat.

Finis did not hesitate when the loud gringo voice violated the quiet of the night.  He swung the Model 97 to his right and fired, holding the trigger down as he pumped the action 6 more times.  He swept the top of the creek bank from left to right and threw the Model 97 down as it clicked on an empty chamber. It had not even finished clattering to a rest in the rocky creek bed before he gouged Black in the side and the mule took off full tilt up the creek bed.  There was no cover, no refuge, no defending their position in the creek bed.  Pascual  and his pistoleros were on their own.

15 minutes of hard running to the north, Finis slowed the big mule to a walk and listened.   There were no signs of pursuit and the sounds of gunfire had diminished to the south.  He knew he had been hit.   A scant few seconds into the fight it felt like a freight train had slammed into his gut; almost knocking him off  Black.   He reached down to gauge the damage  in the dark and his hand came away bloody on both sides.  “Damned the luck Black!  Looks like I done been gut shot from one side t’  the other.”   He guided the mule out of the creek bed to the right and pointed him northeast before collapsing across his neck.  He was beyond noticing the bloody 2  inch deep furrow a .30 caliber bullet had cut across the top of the mule’s neck 10 inches in front of the saddle.

………….

Ranger Sergeant Thomas L. Evetts watched as the big black mule came up the shadowed creek bed to the south and the rider was not alone.  He had counted 4 more outriders horseback and 13 loaded mules before the black mule drew close and they were still coming into dimly lit view.  He laid the sights of the Model 8 on that first rider astride the huge black mule. “Nut cuttin’ time boys.”  He took two measured deep breaths and  shouted his challenge.

Evetts was no stranger to mayhem and violent death.  He had taken lives at arm’s length and toppled men from the saddle as far as the eye could see.  It came part and parcel with the job.  Even so, he was not prepared for the withering wall of lead that rose up from the bottom of the creek in a sheet of flame as soon as he shouted out.  Adrenaline instinct overrode surprise and his Model 8 boomed out into the night;  joined by the other rifles farther down the rim of the creek.   His first shot went wide of the mark, he heard the second shot thunk home in soft flesh.  Before he could touch off the third round, the  big black mule was gone from his field of view like a ghost.  Evetts shifted his aim to the horseman wearing the sombrero, next in line,  and the Remington boomed again.

Evetts had just ejected the last magazine from the Model 8 and pulled the Smith Triple Lock from its’ holster when the firing from the creek bed stopped.   “Alright boys!  That’s enough!  Cease fire!”  He laid still for a minute and scanned the creek bed from right to left.  Men and mules and horses littered the rocks below.   All the men were down and he could hear men groaning and stricken mules thrashing about. Moving down the bank to where he had left Watts and Holt,  Watts stood as he approached.  “You OK Watts?”   The young man brushed himself off “Yes sir I do believe so.  I think  Holt may be hit.”  Evetts hurried past him and went to the boulder where he saw Holt’s legs sticking out from the back of the rock.  They weren’t moving.   He rolled Holt over and saw he had taken a bullet high in the center of his forehead.  He was done for; sure enough.   He let out a long breath as he stood and Daniels came up from the south to join the two of them.   As he approached he said “Holt get hit?”  “Yep, he’s all done in.  Looks like one of those pistoleros cut him down.  Nuthin’ we can do for him now.   Y’all check your weapons and lets’ get down yonder and clean up.”

Daniels stopped him and said “Tom, looks like you got hit too.”  It was only then Evetts noticed his left shoulder was soaked in blood.  Pulling back his shirt, he saw what appeared to be a shotgun pellet wound through and through the top shoulder meat.   He was also bleeding from a wound on his lower left rib cage.  It looked like the butt of the Colt 1903 had taken a lead ball full on and then the spent pellet had glanced off his ribs leaving a small gouge in his side.  Both bakelite grip panels of the Colt were shattered.  “We’ll see to my shoulder later.  Git down there and make sure none of them wounded banditos is thinkin’ about filling his hand with a pistola.”

The three men moved down the creek,  dispatching grievous wounded horse, man and mule alike.  The light was just starting to come up when the three men  gathered together for the final  accounting.   One mule had emerged unscathed and two of the muleros were slightly wounded.  Evetts looked at the two Mexicans.  One had been shot in the hand and the other one holding what looked to be a broken right arm across his chest.  “Vamonos”  he said and the two Mexicans quickly vanished down the creek bed toward Mexico with nothing more than the clothes on their back.   Evetts took his knife and cut two long strips from the serape on the dead Mexican at his feet.   Looking at the other two he said  “Y’all gather up that old Mexican with the gold coin in his cheek up in the front there and strap him across that mule.  Take your rifle butts and smash every bottle of rum they is down here ‘cept for two.  Bring them here so I can rinse out these holes in me.  Then we’ll put Holt across his horse and get out of here.”   Evetts set in to tending to his wounds, binding them up with the strips of  serape after he cleaned them out with the rum.

90 minutes later,  Evetts swung up into his saddle and turned his little group south toward Study Butte.  To no one in particular he remarked  “I sure do wish I had brought that feller ridin’  that big black mule down.”   Watts said  “I be knowin’ of that feller ridin’  that mule.  Name of  Turney an’ he owns a little rancho ’bout 2-3 miles north of here.”   Evetts reined in his horse “You don’t say Curran?  I think it best mebbe we take a little side detour and pay Mr. Turney a visit.”

The bleached bones of man, mule and horse along with bits of hair, hide, and metal buckle would litter the creek bed for years.  The  high desert sun would glitter off shards of broken glass;  drawing the curious near.

………….

Lalo woke up in the predawn blackness in the bunk house at the Turney place.  Laying still for a moment, he heard muffled gun shots coming from far away to the south.  He threw the blanket his wife had made for him the last time he was home in Mexico to the side and sat up in bed.   “Muy malo this” he muttered to himself as he slipped his feet into the sandals on the floor and walked outside. He knew Senor Finis was working this night.

As the first rays of the sun touched the tops of the Christmas Mountains to the south,  Lalo noticed a black shadow up by the mesquite thicket in front of the spring.  He waited a few minutes more and his suspicions were confirmed.  It was Black Jack standing up there with his head down. “No bueno.  No bueno. No bueno.” he repeated over and over as he headed up the hill toward the spring.

Previous installments of the book are HERE.

Disclaimer:  This is a work of fiction.  None of the characters are real.  The events depicted may or may not be historically true or even remotely factual.  Locations and descriptions may or may not be actual.  This is my original work and you DO NOT have permission to copy more than a short excerpt which must point back to my original document. This work and all work in this series is Copyright © 2013 MyOldRV.com.

 

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2 comments to (Book Selection) San Carlos Crossing – IV

  • I have been following this blog for some time now, and enjoy it alot. I would like to draw your attention to the licensing of your fiction. As you are free to licence it any way you like, I would encourage you to read the creative commons licence you have choosen, as the footnote you have at the bottom of your installments, is not compatible with the terms of the creative commons licence displayed.

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    • Andrew

      Stuart,
      You are correct and I have made some changes to indicate the copyright on the fiction is in fact different from the copyright for general blog content. Thank you

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