This is Part three. If you’re wondering what it’s part three of, then maybe you should stop here and read parts one and two. Or better yet, go to Amazon, buy my story and then buy copies for everyone you know, and half the people you’ve forgotten. It’s coming holiday time, and won’t you feel better making sure a starving writer gets Pop Tarts in his stocking?
Anyway – here’s part three.
If you were looking to spy on anythin’ in Taos, the steeple of Saint Frank’s was the best place to be. Even today it’s the tallest spot in town, and it sits like a mule in the middle of the main road. It sits so stubborn that the road has to split go around it. Even from where we were workin’ I could see all the way down the road to where it became more trail than street.
It was when I saw them four fellas comin’ into town and heading right into the Rosa Linda that it all came together for me. These men were not casual, mid-day drinkers, and Estevo, who knew damn well who killed Rutherford James, was not the type to heroically keep his mouth shut.
I looked over at Slimy with my good eye, and he of course was diggin’ and talkin’ to my bad eye. “So that musta been Raisin, ’cause she was the bitch that whelped Tunny. So it was Tunny that barked, ’cause Raisin was dead by then, when her leg swelled up so bad…”
“That barkin’ was so loud that Momma woked up, and Momma never woked much when she was drinkin”.
Slimy looked surprised. I don’t know if he was surprised to be looking at my good eye, which he rarely saw, or he was surprised that I interrupted one of his stories, which I had never done before.
“Slimy, you have to go hide.”
“There’s four men comin’ to kill ya.”
Slimy didn’t say anything. He balanced his chin on the end of his shovel and took it all in. Slimy was accustomed to violence, but advanced warning was new to him. So was running and hiding.
“Go hide in the church,” I said.
“Where do I hide in thar?”
“Just find someplace.”
Slimy didn’t move at first. He just stood there in his ditch and stared at me. Finally he dropped his shovel.
“Alright,” he said, and he climbed out of his ditch and went into the church.
I don’t know if Estevo was holding out or the men were having a beer, but they didn’t come out of the Rosa Linda for nearly an hour. It had me hopin’ I was wrong about ’em, or about Estevo.
I wasn’t. They came straight over to Saint Frank’s. Estevo knew Slimy and me had a job there.
Now, in all these western novels, and I guess this is one too, but I’m hopin’ it’s a bit more truthful than the others…
Where was I?
In all those other western novels, the bad guys are always big bruisers. I’d like to tell you that these fellers were little guys, or even just middlin’, ’cause as you might have picked up, I kinda like to be different.
But these guys were monsters. The smallest was half a head taller than me, and he was a fair bit smaller than the ugly one that did all the talkin’.
Maybe if you’re an Indian agent and you plan on selling guns and booze to Indians, you hire the biggest fellers you can find to stand with you.
Anyway, the particularly big and ugly one says to me, “Hey Cock-eyed, are you Beach?”
“Nah,” I said, “the name’s Bego. Beach digs the holes, I build the latrines.”
“Ain’t that somethin’ to brag on,” said the ugly one. The other fellers laughed. I guess I woulda laughed, too, if it weren’t me that just bragged about building outhouses.
“So where’s Beach, Shitbox Man?”
“I dunno. He ain’t in his ditch.”
“I can see that. Where’d he go?”
“Hell,” I said, because I was mad and wanted to hit someone, but these fellers were much too big to mess with, “I told you I don’t know!”
I learned something about lying that day. I’m sure that Father Gonzalez wouldn’t approve me passing it on, and if there are any children reading this, you need to skip over the next couple of lines.
This is what I learned. People don’t believe you when you’re tryin’ to convince ’em, but they will believe you if you sound mad.
The four men stared at me. I did my best to stay mad, because that was just about the scariest moment in my life to that point.
“Yeah, alright, Cross-eye,” said the ugly one. I wanted to shout that I was cock-eyed and not cross-eyed, but it sounded too much like my brag about building shit boxes instead of digging them, so I just spit and picked up a scrap of lumber.
The ugly one laughed. “Well boys,” he said, “we better be movin’ on before our little shit-house builder takes to us with his stick.”
They all laughed, but they also left, so I felt a little better. Maybe I scared them some – well, it was a nice thought, anyway.
But I didn’t feel so good when I saw them go into the church.
Love this movie - Little Big Man