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Incident at the Hacienda

Close-up of a girl's face with a slightly offset, faded picture of a Rottweiler superimposed.

Esther May Judges

The difference between C.J. and Ramón was painted across the sky as far as Esther May was concerned. The few years separating the men were nothing. Ramón’s muscular physique against C.J.’s wiry, saddle-toughened body wasn’t enough disparity to cause her to choose one over the other.

Sure, she’d look and admire the Mexican’s build, but the world between the men was one of the mind.

C.J. was cocky and on a high horse when he addressed her in the courtyard, but he didn’t come to fight.

Ramón, on the other hand, could be restrained once but not twice. He wanted to fight and hurt C.J.

Conflicted

After the short scuffle that left C.J. bloodied, Esther May plopped down in her chair. She had enjoyed the social politeness and ladies clothes offered by Doña Maria. Now, she felt her cheeks burn with embarrassment for her association with C.J. and her anger at Ramón. Her happiness turned sour with a few words. She was much stronger on the trail where friends and enemies were clearly defined. And somehow, she caused this trouble.

“Doña Maria, I’m sorry. I thought my friend would be happy here. I didn’t figure on him acting that way.”

Maria dismissed the apology with a backhanded wave. “It is nothing. Men must fight for women. It happens all the time.” She chuckled. “Not here, of course. They know I will only have a Don.” She shrugged. “And that’s merely because there are no Baróns left in this country, and I don’t want to return to Mexico.” She doubled her fist and thumped the table. “I refuse to lower myself for an unbred peon.”

She glanced at Esther May. “My dear, you’re not eating. You didn’t seem this upset in your jail cell.”

“If you’ll excuse me, Senora,” Esther May said, “I’ve had enough. Thank you.”

In Her Room

Esther May finished dressing in her trail clothes before three knocks sounded at her heavy, wooden door. “Who is it?”

Ramón’s voice answered. “You know who it is, Senorita. You have been looking at me. I know how you see me and I’m here to make you happy.”

“Go away.”

“I think I’ll stay so you can get a good look. I have a bottle of tequila, and for you, I have my shirt off. You can see my strong shoulders where you can lay your head and my mighty arms to carry you away.”

“Don’t come in here!”

“You have protested enough for your honor. Now is your lucky night to have me all to yourself.”

Boldness in Romance Reaps its Reward

Ramón swung the door open and stepped shirtless into the room, his belt unbuckled and the top buttons of his pants undone. He grinned and stretched his arms wide.

Esther May’s Colt sent the .44 caliber slug into Ramón’s right hip. The impact spun him around and flung the tequila from his hand end-over-end. The bottle hit the wall but didn’t break.

Voices yelled in Spanish. Boots ran along boardwalks and people with guns drawn converged where Ramón lay on the floor swearing in two languages.

At least, Esther May assumed he was swearing in Spanish since he was fouling English.

A dark-skinned man bent over Ramón and cut his pants away from the wound. As he cut, he spoke, and the man that had served Esther May dinner turned and bolted down the hall.

Doña Maria Judges

The man returned with bandages and Doña Maria Esquerra. She took in the scene: Ramón half-undressed and wounded, Esther May still holding her pistol.

Maria clutched her rosary. “Dulce Madre.” She stepped around the men and bent low. Peering intently, she spoke rapid Spanish to the curador attending Ramón.

The medicine man lifted his shoulders, dropped them and replied.

Maria pressed her lips together and shook her rosary at Esther May. “Senorita,” she said, “you have shot his leg out of its hip joint. If he lives, he will not be able to ride a horse or walk without a crutch. You have cost me the best bodyguard I have.”

The Visit’s Over

Esther May holstered her revolver and picked up the tequila. “I’m sorry this is the way I repaid you for saving my life, Doña Maria. If I may borrow a horse, I’ll leave now.”

As she walked past Ramón she paused. “I won’t kick you while you’re down, but here’s the drink you wanted.”

Esther May emptied half the bottle of tequila on his bloody hip and left.

Ramón’s yells filled the hacienda.

Is Esther May turning mean? Were her actions justified? Leave a comment now.

Hip injuries continue to be a source of lasting trouble. Here’s one article discussing why.

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