Though the sandstorm had faded away into the night, the man remained in the town. He was close enough to his destination that he could afford some moments to himself and he had not seen the riders he was looking for enter the area yet. He had paid a man to tell him once the Mexicans had showed up. For now, he remained in the town. He had arrived last night, during the storm, flashing his gold and pistols. Food and beer and whiskey had been brought to him a plenty by whores of his choosing, lined up by the mayor of the town.
"Pretty, ain't she?" he said, gesturing to a short, buxome woman with dark hair and frightened eyes.
The man grunted. "Who is she?"
"I'll take her," the man pulled the girl close to him. She squealed, afraid. "And them ones, too."
He pointed to two women who could easily have been twins, no older than the sixteen of the mayor's daughter.
"Of course, sir," the man ushered the two women into a storage room. They re-emerged with food and wine and were escorted to the man's house. The man stood in the middle of the town square and pushed his lips onto those of the small daughter of the mayor. She tried to resist but his arms were strong, his hands wandering over her thighs and buttocks. People in the square looked away, left. The man smirks and dragged the girl with him to the house with the other women. Her screams echoed out into the world, uncaring, as he violated her over and over again.
In the morning, he pulled on his britches and stepped out into the glaring sunlight of the day. The storm had passed, leaving everything covered in a thick layer of sand. A messenger came to him.
"Sir," he said, panting out of breath, "sir, the men you was lookin' for, I think they just come in from the south!"
"You sure?" the man pulled on his duster and hat.
"Well, I reckon it. Three Mexicans, one with a red bandana around his hat."
The man flipped the messenger a coin. "Buy yourself a whore."
Tipping his hat, the boy left. The man saddled his horse and packed up his belongings and rode swiftly from the town, ignoring the smiling mayor spitting pleasantries, smirking. It was not until the man was out of sight, hidden from his prey, that the mayor would find his daughter. Blood covered the walls and floor. Her once pretty face was cut from the skull and stuck to the wall in a macabre grimace, the eyes staring out at a world they no longer knew. In blood, on the walls, was written "thanks be to the lord". The girl's gut had been cut open, the sheets soaked with thick redness. The other two whores were found bound and gagged in the closet, nary a cut on them. It is said that the mayor's wife's cries could be heard for miles and days, cracking the air like lightning. But the man who killed her daughter heard nothing of it.
Bennet and Xavo were riding side by side when Xavo finally spoke, the first words since they'd left town.
"There, up ahead," he said. He leant over and rubbed his leg. "I can see Sanguar's hat."
Bennet, too, could see the unmistakeable red bandana wrapped around an old brown hat, sitting on the Mexican's head, while he sat in the sand contemplating gold and murder.
"Finally," Bennet said. "It was damn far out this time."
Xavo nodded. It was only when they were within a stone's throw that they saw the blood. Like a map of veins spread across the sand, it had sunk in dark and thick. The Mexicans sat in upright positions against saddlesm. Their horses were gutted, sitting around them, strips of meat removed.
The two riders steadied their horses, who whined at the sight of the dead animals. Bennet shushed and petted his, cooing it to being still. Once it was, he climbed down and explorded the site.
"Madre des dios," Xavo had climbed from his horse, too, and walked beside Bennet. "What has happened?"
"Can't rightly say," Bennt leaned down to look at Sanguar's face. A knife stuck out, a note pinned against his forehead. Bennet took the note off and read it. "But it appears that someone is not so keen on our fake money business."
Bennet passed Xavo the note, who read it, mumbling each word aloud in the manner of men reading their second language.
"Puta madre," he said, throwing the note down. "Who is this who tries to stop us?"
Bennet got up, looked around. "Don't know, doesn't say."
Beyond the town nearby a ways and some shrubbery over the lip of a small valley, there was nowhere for an ambusher to hide.
"But it seems to me like we should leave."
Bennet had barely spoken the words when small explosions in the sand caught his eyes.
Thuk, thuk, thuk.
The rifle cracks came to his ears a split second later and he dropped to the ground.
"Too late," he said to himself. "Looks like we have to shoot our way out."
Xavo cocked his two pistols, raised them close to his chest. "Si, and maybe only one of us will leave."
"Or neither of us."
And the two men returned fire in the direction of the gun-cracks, hoping to hit anything.