Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Slant Ways

Slant Ways
By: James Dubeau

The night before last
When day turned to the
The moon was falling
Slant ways
Shouldn't that orb
Always be rising
When darkness freshly falls
I wish it were so
But no
Luna was setting
In such a way
That made me sad
Behind the trees
Never to be seen
In all her glory
Slant ways

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tequila – Part 3

Tequila – Part 3
By: James Dubeau

“You can’t burn down my cantina just to kill a couple of train robbers. That building is my livelihood. I’ll be in my rights to bill you for everything destroyed.” Reyes’ voice rang through the shattered window.

“Settle your damn horses,” the sheriff’s words rose above all other noise. “Damages will be paid from the money they stole. We’ll give them some time to surrender before torching your place.”

“Let us ride out of here or I’ll shoot our hostage.” Dave shouted.

“You’ll be doing me a favor. He owes me a lot of money.” Reyes said. “When they murder Owen you will pay off his complete tab, sheriff.”

"That can be arranged." The sheriff said.

“They don’t like you much do they?” Dave pointed his gun at Owen. “How are you doing, Jeff?”

“He’s fine,” Owen poured tequila into his mouth before he shared with Jeff and splashed some upon the wound. “Be careful where you point that thing. You wouldn’t want to accidently shoot your brother.”

“I’ll point this gun wherever I want to.”

“Truth be told, I’m more scared of those men outside. With the money I owe Reyes he’ll plug a hole in me just to get to you and pay off my tab. The sheriff will kill us all.” Owen teetered and fell. His flailing body knocked over a table on his way to the floor. He staggered to his feet and drank from the bottle. “Didn’t lose a drop.”

“I’m not scared of no sheriff.” Dave returned his attention to the exterior. Sweat beaded upon his forehead.

“Be scared for your brother. He’s not walking anywhere.” Owen wobbled to Dave and peered through the window. The sheriff was behind a water trough across the street and held a rifle steady.

“I can ride if you get me to my horse.” Jeff used the bar to pull himself upright.

Owen plopped onto a chair with a heavy sigh. His eyes hung heavy. “I’ve been bending my elbow all day. I’m not sure I could get myself to your horses let alone carry him there.”

Dave tossed a small bag onto the table beside Owen. Gold coins fell through bag’s mouth. “That’ll give you some strength and pay for your services. If you falter I will shoot you before Reyes does.”

“Should be enough for what I owe.” Owen pocketed the bag and lurched to Jeff. He let the bandit support his weight on his shoulder and the pair staggered to the door. Owen took one last drink off the bottle of tequila in his hand. “For courage,” he told himself.

“When I kick open the door, get to the horses.” Dave turned to the entrance and thumbed back his hammer.

Owen swung with the bottle, catching Jeff in the face, and grabbed the revolver out of the falling injured man’s hand. Dave turned as Owen pulled the trigger. The large man crashed through the door and fell to the boardwalk outside.

“What have I done?” Owen sunk to his knees.

“You did a brave thing.” The sheriff had rushed into the cantina. Reyes and the deputies were not far behind.

Tears streamed down Owen’s face. Shattered glass and tequila was strewn across the floor. “My tequila has gone to the great siesta in the sky.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tequila – Part 2

Tequila – Part 2
By: James Dubeau

“He’s plumb soaked.” Jeff’s voice was labored. “I’m bleeding out. I’m going to die.”

“A belt of whiskey would cut the pain. He must have hidden that bottle good,” Dave said. Heavy boot-steps upon wood floor boards crossed the cantina. A revolver barrel scraped against a leather holster and tapped against window glass. “That rat is coming back with the sheriff and a couple deputies.”

“Get out of here. Leave me to die.”

“No brother of mine will rot in prison.” A window shattered and a revolver’s bark filled the cantina. “Look at them run,” Dave laughed.

“I’m not going to make it long enough to rot,” Jeff said. A chair slid across the floor followed by Jeff who hit the floor hard and loud.

Boots thundered across the cantina. Owen’s chair was suddenly no longer beneath him, his head cracked off the floor. Dave’s words were fast and furious. “See to my brother. If he dies, you die.”

Owen blinked in the dim cantina light. Pain seared across his skull. The spinning room slowly focused on the barrel of Dave’s gun. The unblinking black eye in steel provided Owen more than enough encouragement to move. He stumbled to his feet and joined Jeff.

“You better do what he says. Once he gets to something he’ll finish it through.” Jeff struggled with each word. His belly wound seeped across alkali dust caked clothing. A revolver hung loose in his grasp but remained trained upon Owen.

“I don’t aim to die today,” Owen said equally as slow. He tore Jeff’s shirt and revealed purple flesh marred by torn muscle and blood. The drunk washed blood away from the wound with a bar rag and bottle of tequila. Jeff yelped in pain.

“You livin’?” Dave brought his revolver to bear on Owen.

“It hurts.” Jeff managed through clenched teeth.

“He’s livin’.” Owen slurred.

“Throw out your guns and come on out or else we’ll gun you down.” The sheriff’s voice boomed from outside the cantina.

Dave responded to the sheriff with gunfire then added, “Come on in for our guns.”

“No can do, cowboy. I’ll burn you in the fires of hell first.”

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tequila – Part 1

Tequila – Part 1
By: James Dubeau

Tequila in the afternoon creates a different kind of drunk.  It does not make one hot and want to fight like whiskey does. It does not just give a good beer buzz. The only thing a tequila drinker wants to do is lounge away from the sun.

That was the mood Owen was in that afternoon. He leaned his chair in shadows against the wall in Reyes’ cantina with a hat pulled over his eyes. A mostly empty bottle of tequila was upon the table. Flies buzzed near his head, keeping him on just this side of consciousness. Reyes watched his only patron while he wiped glasses clean.

Owen didn’t budge when the sound of thundering hooves filled the cantina. Soon a pair of men bashed through the door. One pair of boots pounded across the wood floorboards, the other was softer and accompanied by labored breath. Dust from a hard ride on the trail floated on tiny air currents and reached Owen’s lips.

“Whiskey,” the heavy man said at the bar.

The thud of a bottle hitting the counter followed by clinking glasses filled the room. Reyes’ voice wavered. “All I got is tequila.”

“I’m dying, Dave.” The other man wheezed.

Liquid splashed into glasses. Dave threw back his drink and his glass shattered on the wood floorboards. “You drink this coffin varnish? We got money for good stuff. All you shop keepers have a private bottle and it better be whiskey.” Coins jingled across the counter.

“Sure thing boss. I got something good out back.” Reyes’s footsteps carried him from the room and were silenced behind a shutting door.

“They got me good. I can’t ride no further.”

“You can’t hang up your fiddle, Jeff. After a rest we’ll hit the trail again. Not too much further before we are free in Mexico. Just think of all that money we have. That’ll keep you going.”

“That railway man surprised me. He put a hole clean through me. He killed me.”

“You Squabashed him good. He got what he deserved for trying to stop us.” A metal click cut the silence in the cantina, the hammer on a revolver had been cocked. “Who are you?”

Owen’s tequila soaked brain refused to be fully woken from his siesta. In the state he was in he would not have moved for God let alone for a pair of armed bandits. The threat of death was just a welcomed release from life.