Monday, June 13, 2011

Traildust PART SEVEN

A heavy sandstorm began to blow in from the south and Bennet had to wrap a torn piece of cloth across his nose and mouth to breath. The Mexican popped up his coat collar and fashioned them together with a string sewn there for the purpose. The world was blurred and hazy, the horses whined and bucked, wanting to turn their eyes away from the sand and the wind.
"We oughta stop somewhere," Bennet said, his voice loud to call over the howling winds. "The horses ain't gonna make it and we're gonna get lost out here! I'm certain there's a town not far from here to the north-west."
"No stopping, cabron," Xavo said. "We're already tarde, we need to meet the others."
"Where the hell are they? We never been out this far for a meet before. The hell's goin' on?"
"Cállate y ven, we're almost there."
As if on message by god, Xavo's horse bucked him off in a fit of pain and fear and kicked its way north as fast as its tired legs would take it, its hind legs stamping on Xavo's left leg as it fled from its master.
"Puta madre!" The Mexican got up to try and follow the beast, but tripped over into the sand. He let out a murderous cry, swearing revenge on the animal and the world of beasts and men. Thick blood pooled out from his leg and soaked into the yellow sand, balling in chunks and sticky rivers. "Help me, hijo de puta!"
Bennet climbed down off his horse and stood over the Mexican. "I think it's time you told me just what in the hell is goin' on, Xavo."
He pulled his six-shooter from his thigh holster and let it hang there in his hand. The Mexican looked from it to the eyes of the man holding it and back again. He swallowed and scratched at his dark and patchy beard. His eyes darted back and forth, a trapped animal backed into a corner.
"Pinche cabron," he said. "There's nothing going on, si? Sanguar just wants to have a talk with you, hablar, es todo."
"Talk about what?"
"Business, cabron, negocio, dinero."
"What in the hell's changed from normal?" Bennet cocked the hammer back on the pistol but didn't raise it from its languid position by his side. Xavo jerked his eyes to the pistol. Slowly, he looked back up at Bennet. His eyes were serious, unmoving, dark with anger.
"It's getting harder to move the fake money," Xavo pushed himself into a sitting position with his palms. "The townspeople and their intendetes are hiring mercenarios, los Pinkertons, to drive us out of town. They're starting not to take the pesos, we need to make more American dolares. Green money, cabron. They killed three of our hermanos so far!" The Mexican stopped and eyed Bennet carefully. "Sanguar figured that since you are un herrero, you could make some pistolas y fusiles. Guns, cabron. Sanguar wants guns."
Bennet looked down at the man. His eyes narrowed. "I don't make guns."
"Eres un herrero! You can make guns!" Xavo lifted his arms in the air, fists balled, shaking them at him.
"I can make guns, but I won't make guns."
"Por que, cabron?"
"'Coz that's gonna come back to me, and killin' folks ain't what I'm for. I'll make you some green back, American dolares. I'll do that. I said I'd do that, I owes you that much. But I draw the line at pistolas. No pistols, no rifles, nada. You ain't gonna come up here and just up and kill Americans 'coz they ain't liable to take the fake money I made for ye. That's a problem you gon' have to sort out yerself."
Xavo was silent for a moment that stretched for the creation and destruction of whole worlds. Finally, he cracked open his voice like an earthquake from under the sea. "Sanguar no sera feliz."
Bennet thumbed the hammer forward and holstered his gun. "Then let him be un-feliz." He reached down and helped the Mexican up onto his own horse and began leading it by the reigns in the direction of town.
"No, I figure we lay low until the sandstorm blows off, then we go talk to your man Sanguar."
Xavo nodded a curt nod and they continued off into the blankness of the desert storm. Once at the gates of the small town, whose name was printed on no sign visible in the storm, Bennet spoke with the mayor who met them at the gate at the behest of the men with guns who manned the entrance to the town. He explained that they were trapped out in the desert on their travels and that his companion had been hurt when his horse had gone mad from the sand and fled, kicking him to the ground. They mayor nodded and took them to a small, empty cottage next to the jail and brought them some food, strips of dried burro and chili, and water. He also sent for a doctor to examine Xavo's leg, who wrapped it in bandages and told him not to put pressure on it.
"The bone is likely broken," the doctor said, putting his tools in his back. "It will set, but you will have a limp. It won't be too bad if you don't walk on it for a short while."
Xavo swore at the man in his native tongue, cursing his family and his sex and his dog. "What am I suppoed to do, eh? Just sit around or ride?"
The doctor looked at him and sighed. He went out for a moment and returned, brushing sand from his hair, and gave Xavo a shot wooden cane.
"This will help lift the pressure from your leg while you walk. If you're careful and vigilent, you won't require one for the rest of your miserable days." And with that, the doctor was gone.
They slept the night in the town, the storm not letting up until the following morning. The mayor gave Xavo a new horse in exchange for his rifle. Grumbling, Xavo mounted the new horse and spurred it onwards, Bennet following. It wasn't until their way out of town that they found Xavo's horse dead curled in on itself like a cold and frightened child, its lungs filled with sand.

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