April 10, 2005

Blogging for Books #10

Well, the topic for this month's Blogging for Books contest was CRUELTY. As someone who makes it a point to never step on anyone's toes, I found it difficult to recall any events in my own lifetime that would fulfill this quest. As such, I donned my Shirley MacLaine guise and divined the following from the depths of my memories of former lives:

Along Came an Ass
by Terence A. (Tiger) Russell

Following my unsuccessful robbery of the Matamoros train, I narrowly escaped into the Chihuahuan Desert in a feeble attempt to reach the US border. I was a day or so ahead of the Federales when my horse stepped into a prairie dog hole and broke his foreleg. I, myself, tumbled onto the ground and found walking extremely difficult. Still, I forged northward. Wounded and afoot, I now hobbled during the cool nights, resting in the shade of any sufficiently large socorro cactus during the hot desert days. I only was able to maintain this pace for a day before I found myself delirious from loss of blood. Finally lying down in the shade of a rock, I only hoped that my pursuers would find me before Death came along to collect my carcass. However, as luck would have it, a Padre astride a burro beat them both to my location.

The Padre found me unconscious and immediately removed the musket ball from my shoulder. The pain of that operation instantly roused me from my deadly delirium and I opened my eyes to find this old cleric washing the dried blood from my youthful skin. I, however, was more interested in the small gray burro, so I pulled my revolver and, waving it, backed him away. Weakly I stood, and keeping my pistol trained on the monk, I climbed atop his burro to continue my trek north.

As soon as I holstered my gun and turned to ride away, the Padre, uncharacteristically, I thought, dashed up behind me and railed at me in Spanish. He pushed on me, trying to dislodge me from my seat. As is my wont when threatened, I quickly drew my six shooter. Instead of immediately gunning down the valiant priest, I clubbed him behind the ear. He slumped slowly to the ground. For good measure, however, the cruel streak in me caused me to shoot off the toe of his boot as he lay unconscious on the hot desert rocks.

I had only ridden across the next rise when I spied the Rio Grande, winding its way through the desert ahead. Atop said rise, however, a strange bolt of lightning flashed from the skies and struck the gray burro. I was thrown clear but came to rest on a pile of jagged rocks. My leg was broken and the bone was jutting through. By sheer will power I crawled northward toward that shallow waterway that divided Mexico from the United States. I do not remember how I managed, but I eventually found myself in Eagle Pass. Luckily for me, an old friend of mine, Pedro, from the Mexican Mine Wars of the late 60's had settled in the area and assisted me in locating a place to hide and lick my wounds. So, it was in tiny quarters nestled atop Giselda’s Bazaar where I quietly convalesced.

As days passed, I began to recollect the events surrounding my last few days. I wondered about the strange lightning coming so soon after my assault on the kindly Padre. I thought maybe a message had been sent and I pledged to work hard toward making changes to my way of thinking. After a month, my leg had sufficiently healed so that I was, once again, able to again regain my feet. Once I could move about, cabin fever quickly set in. I found that I could no longer simply sit, watching out the window at the people scurrying in and out of Giselda’s during business hours. I did not find such activity to be totally distasteful, however, as I often caught a nice view of Giselda, herself. She was as fine a woman upon which any man had laid a pair of eyes.

Late one evening, just as she was closing up for the night, I crept down the stairs. From my room above, I entered from an alcove at the stairway’s end into the back of the shop. As I approached, a floor board creaked and Giselda spun to face me. As her eyes met mine, Cupid’s arrows flung their magic her way and mine. It was love at first sight, at least, at her first sight of me. I had been watching her, from afar, for many days, as I said.

Soon, we were warm and cozy, and I found myself shirking off the wildness of past with each passing day. ‘Ere long, Giselda was spending her days at la hacienda familia handling our domestic matters while cooking up our child in her womb. Ay Carumba! This gringo was going to soon be a Papa.

I hung up my guns and became a shopkeeper. It became my daily duty and delight to handle the wheelings and dealings of the ongoing operations of the Bazaar. I found I enjoyed interacting with the people and making money in a lawful manner. Life was better than I had ever imagined. From my earliest beginnings in the migrant worker’s camps, I had always been at the bottom of the food chain. I had managed to survive solely by my wits, fast fists, and my ability to clear leather more quickly than most. Few had been surprised when I'd become a bandito and a scourge of lawmen both north and south of the Rio Grande. My life now was quite different and, in my new way of thinking, very good. At least it was until "he" walked into Giselda’s Bazaar.

At first, he seemed to be an ordinary customer, except for the ghastly white eyes that shone out of dead sockets and the white cane that clicked hither and thither as he moved toward the counter. “Motherfucker!” he screeched loudly. That diverted my attention in his direction, as well as averted the attention of the other assorted patrons in our busy border town emporium. I darted over toward this vulgar patron, eager to quickly silence his foul utterances.

“May I assist you, sir?” I asked.

“Yeah, cocksucker, you can,” he sputtered. I could smell the odor of stale beer on his breath, but just barely so, as the stench of stale urine on his clothes worked hard to conceal it.

“Excuse me sir, but could you watch your language? There are ladies present, as you can see.”

“As I can see? You dumb bastard, can’t you see that I can’t?”

“My apologies, Señor. Of course, you’re right.”

“You’re goddamned right I’m right. So, what’re you gonna do about it?”

“I’m sorry, sir. I’ve already apologized. I’m not too sure what else I can do.”

“Well, you can get me a goddamned pair of sunglasses, asshole, that’s what you can do.”

“Of course, Señor. I think I have just what you want.” I quickly darted over and grabbed our finest pair of Ray-Bans. “Here is one of the finest pairs we have,” I said as I laid them into his hand.

He reached over with his other hand and, with his index finger, traced the outline of the designer sunshades, then briskly tossed them away. “Defective. Run-of-the-mill Chinese import. I want something unique, cocksucker.”

By this time, the store had cleared out. I wanted to clear this bum out of the store, as well, but he was blind, after all. I suppose one had to allow a little latitude to the handicapped. This particular handicapped individual, however, soon proved himself to be one superb pain in the ass. Over the next hour, I proffered one pair of sunglasses after another. He deftly fingered each proffered pair in the identical way, and, just as identically, tossed such aside with disgust. “What kind of fucking trash store is this, anyway? Ain’t ya got anything unique?”

I was about at wit’s end at this point and it was nearing closing time. I had yet missed timely sitting down to one of Giselda’s succulent Tex-Mex repasts and I was not about to have such occur for the first time on account of one rude, crude blind man. I was quickly feeling that I had run out of every alternative other than just physically pitching the bum out into the dusty street when I eyed the old cigar store Indian that stood by the door. Upon it’s face sat the very pair of flat black plastic rimmed glasses with those 3-D lenses it had worn since I had first laid eyes on that silent sentinel. You know the type: one lens red, the other green. “I do have one other pair, Señor. Very unique.”

“Where are they, you bastard. Lemme have ‘em.”

“As you request.” I stepped over, removed the odd glassed from the wooden mannequin, and laid them in the blind man’s hand. He gingerly fingered them over, flipped them over and over, opened them, and placed them upon his face.

“I’ll take these,” he said, as he turned, click-clicking with his cane toward the exit.

“Did you want to pay me for them?” I inquired to his back.

“With all the aggravation you put me through, I kinda deserve ‘em, don’t ya think? If it makes you any happier, numbnuts, you can put it on my bill.” With that, he strode out the door into the street.

I began to busily gathering the dozens of pairs of strewn sunglasses, seeking to put the store in some order before final closing. I put very little thought in the old blind guy. I simply smiled to myself in knowing it would likely take him a few days to learn that he wore such an odd pair of glasses upon his vile visage. It was not only the oddly-colored lenses that made the glasses distinctive. During some point in their long ride upon the wooden Indian’s face, some kid had, with Wite-Out®, painted I’m a Jackass across their front. Of course, in my earlier days, my recent protagonist would have also been missing a few toes for his trouble.

Posted by Tiger at April 10, 2005 12:33 PM | TrackBack

Cuento excelente de la crueldad - es una buena cosa que usted ha reformado. [i.e., - Excellent story of cruelty. It's a good thing you have reformed.]

Posted by: Shirley M at April 10, 2005 02:05 PM

That was great! Well told-- I'll pass it along to the Linda (of my story) who writes Zorro stories avidly!!

Posted by: Jen at April 10, 2005 07:55 PM

Very well written -- in fact, I could have been that vendor in years past. Gawd, how I hated working retail!

Posted by: John at April 11, 2005 05:58 AM

Love the pacing, love the style, and LOVE the plot itself! Especially the way the setting goes from Wild-West-era Mexico to modern-day America. Too cool!


Posted by: Denita TwoDragons at April 11, 2005 08:27 AM

Very nicely told! I like your style!

Posted by: goldie at April 11, 2005 01:09 PM

Thanks for letting me know of the story, it was a good read. Do you find it easier or harder to write about a specific theme?

Posted by: Jay at April 13, 2005 04:43 AM
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