This is the second installment of the seventh chapter of Trouble in Taos. Part One is here. If you would like to win a Trouble in Taos coffee cup, enter the Nine Missing Words contest (though two of the nine missing words should really be one compound word.) The letter scramble for the forth word is: GILTH.
Every time a stranger came into the Rosa Linda, we asked him if he knew any songs. Most didn’t. A few would start singing “Dixie,” or “Green Grow.” One feller sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” We never bothered learning that one. A fair number of the regulars had been Rebels. Sure, the war was over, even Slimy knew that – though Slimy thought the South won it. But the Rebs didn’t want their noses rubbed in it, and even us Yankees didn’t care much for “The Battle Hymn.” It just sounded so churchy.
One fella offered to teach us “Garry Owen.” We passed on that one too. It was that bastard Custer’s song. There were more Indians, or at least part-Indians, among us than there were Rebs. Even after Little Big Horn nobody wanted any part of that tune.
I wracked my brain to remember the words to those great songs like “Beating Down the Micks” and “Chinaman in a Ditch,” but bein’ born with a voice like a cat with a rusty nail in its tail, I never bothered to learn songs I knew I couldn’t sing.
The day Lowell Sparger stepped into the Rosa Linda was a day I’ll never forget. Lowell was the first man to walk through Estevo’s new bat-wing doors. Estevo ordered the doors from a Sears and Roebuck’s catalog. They were supposed to be real popular in western saloons.
“Ain’t they too small?” asked Charlie Four Fingers. “They don’t reach the ground.”
“No,” said Estevo, “that’s the way they are supposed to look. See here in this catalog.”
The catalog showed a picture of duded-up cowboy pushing back the two small doors, one in each hand.
“That don’t look like any cowboy I ever saw,” said Jacques.
“Yeah,” said Flossy, “too clean. I might like to try that for a change.”
“His hat’s all white,” said Charlie. “Who ever heard of a workin’ man keepin’ a white hat clean?”
“What do you know about work?” said Two-Bucket Joe.
“Just look at the doors,” said Estevo. “They’re just like in this picture.”
“They’ll let the flies in,” said Jacques.
“More likely to let them out,” said Joe.
“You’ll see,” said Estevo. “Doors like that will bring in more business. We’ll get a whole new quality of clientele.”
“If that means clean men,” said Flossy, “then I’m for it.”
And that’s when Lowell Sparger appeared at Estevo’s new batwing doors. He wasn’t clean like the cowboy in the picture, but he was tall and straight. His clothes were nicely mended, and most amazing of all, he was carrying a guitar across his back.
I got up to make room for this stranger and motioned for Slimy to move with me against the wall. He surprised me by obeying without a word. He stank like he always did, but against the wall it wouldn’t be as strong.
The fellers at the Rosa Linda didn’t have any manners, but at least they knew that, so they just did nothing. Estevo, the only man with anything approaching sophistication, did all the talkin’.
“Welcome, stranger,” he said. “My name is Estevo Silva. I own this place.”
I got a little boggled last week looking at yodeling videos. Check this one out.