Still On Alert
Approaching Esther May at her post at the wall was Doña Maria wearing riding clothes complete with a pistol strapped to her hip. In her company was a young man who looked to be no more than a year or two older than Esther May.
“This is Felipé,” Maria said. “He will stay here while you clean up. Then you and I will have supper.”
Esther May glanced at the poncho-covered body of the man she thought of as Mustache. In her mind she saw his head burst with the bullet’s impact and felt the warm splat of its contents against her skin. She gritted her teeth to keep her empty stomach from trying to throw up again.
Wrong Time, Wrong Place
Felipé seemed to have no idea that the torso and legs sticking out from under the cover belonged to a dead man. “Or, you could stay here and we could keep each other warm, chica solitaria,” he said. His perfect white teeth gleamed in the last rays of the western sun.
The inappropriate remark stunned Esther May, but Maria responded. “Be careful, lover boy, she’s not so lonely. She’s the one that shot Ramón when he tried to entice her.”
“Si, I know. But Ramón was wrong for her.” Felipé ran his fingers through his collar-length hair and struck a pose with one hip thrust forward.
At any other time, Esther May would have laughed. This time, she picked up her heavy rifle and dropped the buttstock—hard—on Felipé’s foot.
He grunted and shifted his weight to the other foot and tried to smile, but had nothing to say.
Maria nodded her approval. “Thank you for not shooting another of my men, senorita.” She held out an arm to Esther May. “Come. Leave the rooster to preen and smooth his feathers.”
Felipé found his voice as the women walked away. “I forgive you, come back with the wine and I’ll—”
A high-pitched AIEEE followed by yipping sent goosebumps up Esther May’s arms. She and Doña Maria spun to see three Apaches, stripped for fighting, had jumped the wall between Felipé and the next sentry.
An Indian with a blue headband charged the man farther along the wall. The vaquero dropped to one knee and shot the attacker in the chest, then shot him four more times to make sure he didn’t get up. Blue Headband was out of the fight.
Felipé remained where he was, leaning on his rifle as if he were posing for a photograph. His head turned toward an attacking Indian with a black streak smeared across his chest. Black Streak’s war club silenced Felipé’s flirtations.
Esther May became aware of shooting mingled with shouts.
Maria emptied her pistol at the Indian that clubbed Felipé. He appeared not to notice the bullets flying around him and pulled a scalping knife.
The third Indian wore a red headband with the tails hanging over his right ear. He saw the women and yelled. Black Streak straightened and together with Red Tails ran toward Maria and Esther May.
Doña Maria kept pulling the trigger, clicking her pistol on empty chambers.
Esther May lifted the heavy rifle without thinking, she only knew her sights were on the nearest Apache.
Red Tails was down.
She levered another round and fired.
She missed Black Streak.
Again. Again. Again.
She kept missing him as he dodged, swinging his club in one hand and a patch of hair in the other. With a yipping war cry, he turned and leaped over the wall into the gathering dusk. Ragged shots from guards said the Apache made his escape.
No Hope For An Ambush
Doña Maria passed a trembling hand across her brow. “If they’re trying to get us to chase him out there it won’t work. We’re safe in here.”
Esther May wondered about being safe. She had fired more than a dozen rounds and only struck once. She glanced at the mostly naked man she killed.
One .44 caliber slug through a breastbone was enough.
Is Esther May becoming hardened to killing? Say what you think here.
Here’s a short article with more information regarding Apaches.
To read the series click on the down arrow in the Archive list, start with Tales Old Roy Told and work up.
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