Adios, America! by Ann Coulter: A Short Review

adios americaI had always thought and felt that our nation’s policy on illegal immigration was out of balance, but when I read Ann Coulter’s book, Adios America!: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole, I was completely convinced of how my suspicions were correct,  and I was horrified by how warped our immigration policies were and are.

Don’t get me wrong. Though I live in North Louisiana, I I work almost every month in the Rio Grande Valley in schools, museums, festivals, and other special events. I have MANY friends who have immigrated from Mexico legally, and I have known many others who HAD to move their families or businesses across the river for safety’s sake, but these are not the issue of Coulter’s book. The Rio Grande Valley where I work is beautiful, safe, and not overwhelmed like some locations are.

Now, here’s what I learned, believed, observed from Coulter’s book, You will need to read Coulter’s book to see what I affirm here:

  1. We do need a moratorium (at least temporary)  on all immigration.
  2. The mainstream media and our politicians have deliberately withheld information about the harm the hordes of  illegal Immigrants do to America.
  3. The entire world  outside of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Western Europe, etc. are in humanitarian crises.
  4. Americans do not want America to become Mexico. If Mexico is so great, why do so many want to leave?
  5. Immigrants are costing Americans taxes in birthing babies,welfare, crime, and welfare. We cannot sustain this expense.
  6. The media and liberals seek for and attack crimes (mostly imagined) of whites while ignoring the crimes of illegal immigrants. Obvious hypocrisy.
  7. A wall on the border will work to help stem illegal immigration from Mexico.  Examples of walls that have worked: Fences around rich folks homes, the Wall between China and North Korea, between Israel and Palestine, the Great Wall of China, and other borders.
  8. Democrats are using the hordes of immigrants and the promised amnesty to recruit Democratic voters. Yet, these immigrants will be a source of terrorists for us.
  9. Illegal immigrants are the cause of much crime–rape, theft, and murder. Any immigrant convicted of crime should be deported. Any illegal immigrant should be  sent back and allowed to apply for citizenship by legal means.

Read Coulter’s book. The numerous documented examples are depressing and overwhelming, but those examples should spur Americans to action on the issue of illegal immigrants.


“Hello, Webb County” by Bo Depeña

I subscribe to Texas Music Magazine and on this summer’s CD there was a song I really liked and as I couldn’t find the lyrics posted anywhere on the Web, I decided to share them on my blog. The song is “Hello, Webb County,” by Bo Depeña. As I work so much in the Rio Grande Valley, from Laredo to Brownsville, and hoping soon to expand to the upper Rio Grande Valley, I love to discover songs about South Texas and the border country.  I hope to add this song to my show, Songs & Stories of the Rio Grande Valley. Bo Depeña’s website is HERE:
Here are the lyrics for this great song:

“Hello, Webb County” by Bo Depeña

V. 1 I was born in San Anton,
But I never did pay it no mind.
Cause my parents moved down to a border town,
Where they ran into some troubled times,
Though I couldn’t call it paradise,
It surely was one of a kind,
Down in the Valley where the whitetail run
On the US Mexico line.

Hello, Webb County
I’m coming home to you,
Though it may be far from heaven,
It’s the best that I can do.

V. 2 I met me a girl in Austin,
And I followed her to New Orleans,
I ended up in New York City
With nothing but a pair of jeans,
Then I made my way to the mountains west,
To the Rockies and the evergreens,
But I couldn’t shake these homesick blues
With the Rio flowing in my veins.


V. 3 When the winters get cold and lonely,
It takes me to another time.
Before the bust, before the war,
When everyone was getting by,
It’ll never quite feel like home again,
But I’ll love it till the day I die,
When the sun goes down on the border town
On the US Mexico line.

Click on the image below to see Pittman’s newest book, Rio Grande Valley ABC.

small cover

Ann Coulter on the French Revolution

Ann Coulter on the French Revolution

UnknownI have to confess–my first thoughtful reading touching the French Revolution, the time when I really understood the horror of period in French history, was when I taught my gifted reading students, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Like Anne Frank in the 1959 movie script, I thought it the saddest book I’ve ever read. I’ve never forgotten that first reading and today I still consider it one of Dickens’ best novels. Now, many years later, I came into possession of Ann Coulter’s Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America. Two chapters in that fine read deal specifically with the French Revolution, and one chapter contrasts our own American Revolution with the French.

Coulter’s two chapters dealing with the French Revolution were so powerful and affected me so deeply that I had to read them twice. They were disturbing, not only because of the vivid horror of the French Revolution she portrays so well, but also because the comparison to our own country frightened me by showing the abuses I knew could easily occur today. The seed of the mindset that created the French Revolution has been scattered throughout our own society. Here’s a few observations I drew from the chapters:

  1. There was no logic to the chronology of the French Revolution. Coulter argues this is because it was a mob event, and mobs do not operate by logic. Mobs are irrational.
  2. The mobs of the French Revolution were fueled by rumors and gossip.
  3. The French Revolution mobs were anti-secular. Churches and spiritual leaders were attacked. The State became the official religion.
  4. Lawful authorities (law enforcement of the French society) were targeted. The mob had no fear of punishment, so the mobs ran wild.
  5. Beautiful and priceless monuments, statues, and art were destroyed because they offended those in the mobs.
  6. Even the leaders of this revolution were not safe as other leaders and the mobs turned on them. Mobs can love someone one minute and hate the person the next.
  7. Anyone who questioned the excesses and course of events was deemed unpatriotic and paid the price.
  8. The French Revolution was nothing like ours. It set the stage for the Bolshevik Revolution, Ma’s Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot’s slaughter, and America’s mindless mobs vandalizing and attacking the innocent.
  9. If you are interested in the French Revolution, in understanding why there’s so many riots and mob occurrences troubling our land, I encourage you to obtain Coulter’s Demonic.

Chapter Seventeen: The Month the Babies Cry

Chapter Seventeen – Micah Returns Ruthie

Ramon led them to the O’Connor farm. Like most farm and ranch houses in Jack Country, there was a fence around the yard made of juniper and bois d’arc posts. The house was still solid with only a few signs of disrepair. As they approached the fence Ramon said, “They’ve done fairly well with the place, considering how many men are gone. Women have had to handle everything—the crops, the livestock, repairs, the children. Let us hope the savages leave them alone.”

An old man in a rocking chair sat on the porch. He was smoking a long-stemmed clay pipe.   When they stopped their horses in front of him, he said, “Ramon Chavez. I haven’t seen you in a spell. I heard you became a Ranger again and signed up with that same unit Frederick’s brother went out with. He didn’t get himself kilt, did he?”

“Yes, it is the same unit. No, Henry is well, but he lost his horse to the Comanches. He should return on foot soon.”

“Get off your horses and I’ll make you and your secessionist friend there some coffee.” His eyes moved to the girl and his smile vanished. “Lord’s sake! Jenny, you best come out here. Ramon Chavez has found your cousin. Good Lord, we feared she was dead.”

“We followed the Kiowas who took her,” Ramon said.

Jenny stepped outside and covered her mouth with her hand. “Ruthie! Oh, Jesus! Ruthie!”

Ruthie stared blankly at her. Jenny ran to Ramon who lifted Ruthie from his horse and passed her down to her.

She smothered the girl in an embrace and kisses. “Ruthie, I was so worried, I thought I’d never seen you again! Thank you, Ramon! Thank you so much! And I thank your friend too.” She looked closer at Micah. “Well, if it’s not Micah Evans. You finally returned to Jack County. I thank you too, sir.”

“Micah’s what you always called me before, Jenny. And I never wanted to be a sir, especially with old friends. Sounds too much like I am—was an officer.”

“Well, seems like a strange notion to worry about.” She clutched Ruthie to herself. “Ruthie, are you well, darlin’?”

Ruthie muttered a few incoherent words, and then groaned in anger. She pulled in a deep breath, then spoke the first words Micah had heard her speak. “It has been terrible, Jenny. Mama and Papa are dead! So is little Jimmy. These two men saved me, and they killed the stinking Indians that took me. Jenny, they did horrible things to me. They hurt me. I wanted to die. I prayed that I would die!” She buried her face in her cousin’s shoulder.

“Shhhh, Ruthie. Don’t talk about it. It doesn’t matter what happened, as long as you are back.” Jenny was crying now, and she placed her arm around Ruthie and led her toward the house. She turned her head. “You men, give us a few minutes so I can tend to her wounds and put some decent clothes on her, and then I’ll fix us a fine supper.” Her eyes fixed on Micah’s briefly, then she looked down. “It’s the least I can do to thank you. Tie up your horses and talk with Papa Charlie. And Papa Charlie, don’t you don’t cause no trouble.”

“War’s over, Jenny. I ain’t gonna mistreat no one who brought home your cousin.” He grinned. “Even if he was a disloyal son of the Union. But I reckon since he is a friend of Chavez, I can put up with him. You are Augdon Evan’s son, ain’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I am.”

“My goodness. My goodness. You can just call me Papa Charlie. I knew your father. He thought a lot of Sam Houston. How did he feel about you joining up with the Confederacy?”

“He didn’t cotton to it much, Papa Charlie. We had some words over it.”

“You as good as man as your father was, boy?”

“I don’t rightly know, Papa Charlie. I reckon he was a better man than I could ever be.”

Papa Charlie looked at Chavez. “What do you think, Chavez?” He pitched Ramon a small sack of tobacco. “Corn husk is inside the pouch if you want to roll yourself a cigarette. I know you don’t cotton to pipes none. It’s good tobacco. Growed it myself.”

Ramon carefully pinched out some tobacco and placed it in the cut square sheet of husk, licked the edge, and then rolled it. Papa Charlie popped a Lucifer match with his finger and held the flame out to him. Ramon lit the cigarette, inhaled deeply, then exhaled. “Thank you, Papa Charlie.” Ramon led his horse to the watering trough and finished his cigarette. “He’s as good a man as Augdon. A natural Comanche killer. He is fearless.”

“Sometimes fearless ain’t a good quality for a man to have. Fearless man takes too many chances and he don’t know when to let something go.”

Ramon passed Micah the pouch of tobacco. “I need to tend to these horses. The Indian ponies belong to Micah, the other two were stolen from Ruthie’s family. I’ll put them in the corral for now.”

Micah remained on the porch and rolled a cigarette for himself. He lit it off Ramon’s cigarette, and while he, Ramon, and Papa Charlie smoked, he could only think of the two bright blue eyes of Erin O’Connor.

*          *          *

That night, Micah and Ramon sat at the O’Connor table and shared the supper of cornbread, pinto beans, canned tomatoes, and coffee that Jenny had prepared.

“I am sorry we don’t have meat tonight,” Jenny said.

“It’s better fare than we’ve been eatin’,” Micah said. “I’m much obliged. I heard you married.”

“I did. Did you know my husband, Micah Evans?”

“No, ma’am, not well anyway. But I did meet Frederick not long after he moved here. He weren’t too friendly at the time.”

“Well, it’s been so long since I heard from him. I fear the worst. I guess I will be another Texas widow. I didn’t want him to get involved in this ignorant war. The store was doing well. He was never real good at taking care of himself, and I just knew some heathen rebel soldier would shoot him down.”

She set down her cup of coffee. “I’m sorry, that sounded harsh.   I don’t want to judge you for fighting with the Confederates. Our men here had to choose, and each had to follow his own conscience. I know the war is near over now, but Jack County lost too many men to it, on both sides, and I don’t know what I should be thinking.”

“I can’t rightly remember why I went myself,” Micah said. “Ramon and my father both tried to convince me not to go.   They said the county was too divided for any sane man to take a stand.   It all seems to have been for nothin’ anyway. I guess standin’ up for an ideal you believe in ain’t enough to win a war, specially when you have men running armies who weren’t cut out for the job. General Smith was a good enough commander, so was Kirby, but some of the others, seem to have been a bit addled. So I take it you are a Unionist like your husband?”

“It’s a touchy issue between my husband and me. My brother moved to New Orleans and joined the 6th Louisiana. One of Lee’s Tigers. He died at Sharpsburg.”

“I’m indeed sorry to hear that.”

“Well, I have such a busy day tomorrow.” Jenny stood behind Micah and refilled his coffee cup, and laid a hand on Micah’s shoulder. “I must go to Jacksboro for some more supplies. So now, I am going to wash the dishes, then prepare a bed for you men on the floor.”

The touch of her hand was light, but it jolted him. “That’s mighty nice of you Miss Jenny,” Micah said. He saw Ramon shake his head slightly.

“Aren’t you the gentleman now, Micah. We grew up together. It sounds strange to hear you address me in such a proper manner.”

“Micah and I can sleep outside, Miss O’Connor,” Ramon said. “The weather is mild, and I feel that you need to be alone with Ruthie. It will be no bother for us.”

“Well, I will give you some extra blankets so you can sleep in comfort, and prepare you a breakfast tomorrow before you leave.”

“We are grateful for your kindness, Miss Jenny,” Ramon said.

Micah found he couldn’t think of anything to say at all. Erin had withdrawn her hand from his shoulder, but he could still feel her hand’s warmth, and something like pre-battle jitters in his stomach.

That night, after they had spread their blankets on the O’Connor porch, Ramon said, “Micah, I am going to say the same thing I know your father would say to you.”

“What’s that, Ramon?”

“I know you took a furlough, but you shouldn’t go back. Your family needs you here.”

“I don’t intend to go back, Ramon. I do have to check on the captain’s family though. Now, quit jawing and let’s get some sleep. Soon Ramon began to snore.

Later, Micah could hear Ruthie whimpering inside. “Damn it, Ramon, how can they sleep with that girl carrying on so?” He didn’t know how to put the thought into words. He had seen hard things in the war, but never something like this. Do you think they . . .”

Ramon turned over on his stomach and raised up on his elbows. The waning moon still gave enough illumination to make out the rim of hills to the west and the cottonwood trees along the O’Connor’s creek. He sighed, “Yes, they did. I’ve never known of Comanches or Kiowas not violating a woman they take. The Comanches and Kiowa have a story they tell. A war party of fifty warriors captured a white woman. The one who captured her took a fancy to her and wanted to keep her as his wife. The others came to him and said, ‘You are not a war chief. You must share the woman with us equally before you can claim her as your wife.’

Well, they all raped her, all fifty of them. When they were finished, one said, ‘Now, you can claim her as your own property.’ The warrior who had taken the woman said, ‘I do not want her now that you have all had her.’ So, they left her to die on the prairie.”

“That story don’t make no sense to me at all, Ramon.”

“Of course not, but it would if you were a Comanche.”


Chapter Sixteen: The Month the Babies Cry

Chapter Sixteen: Takes White Horses

Takes White Horses, the Kiowa leading the war party, stopped his horse and looked back on their trail, searching for the presence he felt.  His eyes followed the trail of their horses’ hoof prints until the sign faded.  They had left an obvious trail for the man or men following.  In his heart he could hear the hoof-beats of another rider’s horse.  Who was this hunter, this hunter of men?  Why is he following?  Is he alone?

            He touched the amulet around his neck and quirted his horse forward.  He understood such men.  He felt it had to be someone whose destiny was connected to the woman.  While the others had already taken her, he could not—could not because she wore the face of death.  But whose? Her own?  His?  The two drunken ones riding with him? All of them?

            He knew that the hunter on their trail would wear the ghost face too.  He knew instinctively that he would be the kind of man who even in the spirit world remains a hunter and returns to the world when it is dark as a malevolent or vengeful spirit.  Such men never rest.  Not in this world, nor in the next.  He thought about abandoning the two with him and riding west, to leave the woman with the two and leave them all to their fate.  He cursed himself for letting them take the bottles of the white man’s fool-water.  They had already drunk two jugs, and there was no sign of the empty bottles. Evidently they had cast them aside on their trail, just as certainly their own bodies would be discarded if this hunter finds them.  He slowed and watched them as they leered at the girl. They were already talking of stopping and taking her again.  They would not understand his insight into the hunter following them.   Even as they rode, they tormented and abused the girl, laughing at her cries. Both were too drunk to listen to him.  They would not be able to travel the whole night as they should if they wanted to reach the Arbuckles and the safety of the tribe, but if they did not stop soon, the two would be falling off their horses.  They would have to stop and he would have to watch as these two warriors spent their strength on the girl and more liquor.

Again frustration ate into him. He had planned to take a long journey to Mexico, to kill, plunder, and return home a rich man, but after the message from the holder of the taime, the warriors he had wanted refused to go with him. The Kiowa priest with the taime had warned him to not come on this trip.  He said a ghost-man would search for him.   This ghost was not yet in the spirit world, when sinews no longer knit flesh and bones together, but his soul was already in the ghost world. Though Takes Whites’ Horses feared the spirit-man following them, he also hated him for being proof of the taime’s words.  Takes Whites Horses had sought guidance by chewing seni, peyote, and danced for six days before leaving, sharing the favors of the women, making a vow to go on a raid.  He had cut the flesh on his own breast to demonstrate to the others his courage and toughness. His hand touched the scar the cut had left.

Looking at the two with him, he regretted allowing his pride get the best of him. There would have been no shame in postponing his path of war until a more fortuitous time.  These two were willing to go with him under his leadership, but he could plainly see they lacked the judgment and discipline warriors need.  Tonight, he had suggested they raid other ranches, but they both wanted to return to the tribe with the girl and the three scalps and two horses and guns they had taken from the one ranch.

The girl wobbled on the horse like she was falling asleep.  He struck her bare back with his quirt.  He sharply warned her to not fall from her horse.

“Frederick, can we stop?” she said. The girl looked blankly at him.

Takes Horses looked at her.

He lashed her back again and repeated himself in Spanish. “No dormir.”

One of the other riders laughed. “The girl is crazy now, Takes Whites Horses.”

“I’m going to tell Erin you hit me again.” She laughed, leaned down and wrapped her arms around the horse’s neck.  “Can’t we stop and make a fire? I’m cold.”

Takes Horses realized he had made a mistake in bringing her this far. Her mind had already cracked. Texan women were beautiful, but they were fragile and weak.  They lacked the toughness and will of Kiowa women, and even that of the Mexicans. She had not been treated that roughly. Not in comparison with some.  This woman would not even make a fit slave. He thought of dumping her to the ground and letting those following have her.  They would likely give up their pursuit.  He decided to carry her on and give her to the camp upon his return as a trophy.  The Kiowa women could use her as they willed, to revenge themselves upon the whites for the members of the tribe lost to their diseases and guns.  The other members of the band had no doubt reached the camp in the Wichita Mountains with the other booty, and the camp would be preparing a celebration for his return.

            He guided the war party toward the harder ground.  We will see, he thought, if the spirit-man can read small sign. He resolved to wait outside the camp tonight for the spirit-man hunting them.  In the dark, where spirits meet and fight. The taime was wrong.  Takes White Horses feared no ghost man, and his hate for the white man was greater than his fear that the taime’s words were truth.  The war party had scalps, a captive, and two horses laden with goods they had taken from the white family.  It had been a good raid.  Tonight they would cross the river the white Texans would not cross.

*          *          *

With his rifle scope, Micah made out the Indians as they crossed the Red River.   The naked Garrison girl sat on a horse led by one of the warriors, her hands tied in front of her. “Well, there they are.  The girl is naked. Looks like she’s had a hard time of it.  What do you want to do, Ramon?  I can pick off the one in front if you want.”  Micah was half-afraid Chavez would tell him to shoot the girl.

“No.  They’ll kill the girl if we try to do anything now.  Let’s go to the edge of the Red, make sure they see us, and turn around.   The moon is full tonight. We’ll circle back and get them later.”

They paused at the edge of the banks of the Red River.  When they turned their horses around, the Kiowas began to whoop and taunt them.

“What are they saying, Ramon?”

“I don’t know.  I speak Comanche, but not Kiowa.  Their tongue is a lot like Apache, but I am certain that they insult us.”

They rode until they were sure they were out of sight, then they circled around and crossed the river downstream from where Ramon thought they would be camped. Micah picketed the horses in a thicket of blackjack oaks, and dumped all the grain they had left on the ground so the horses could forage.  They crept slowly along the banks of the river until they were close enough to hear the girl’s cries and the slaps and rutting that occasioned her grief. Another Kiowa was puking from the liquor, and in the moonlight Micah could see him on his hands and knees.  Micah started to move forward. 

Ramon touched his arm and whispered, “I only hear two, where’s the third one?  He could be already passed out, or he could be watching for us. Keep your eyes open and listen.”

            They eased closer until they could make out the shadow forms of two of the Kiowas.  Micah could see the white skin of the young girl on the ground.  Her moans were delirious and incoherent.   Micah counted the horses. Five.  Three small Indian ponies and two from the Garrison place.  That meant the third Indian was still with the group somewhere.  It troubled him that he could not detect him. He hoped they would find him drunk asleep on the ground. 

            Ramon leaned and whispered into his ear, “You stay here. Watch for the third one.”

Ramon walked into their fireless camp, a revolver in each hand, a Nagas-like demon who had come to claim souls and bathe in bloody moonlight.  One Kiowa was still kneeling and retching, the other was on the girl.  He shot the puking Kiowa twice in the face, and Micah heard skin and blood splatter the girl and the other Kiowa.  The other rose shakily to his feet and stumbled toward his weapons, but Ramon shot him three times in the back before he could reach them.  Ramon holstered the empty pistol and swapped his second one to his right hand as he backed into the shadow of a hickory.  “Micah, where is the third one?”

A shadow streaked past Micah, striking him on his shoulder with a war club.   The shadow whooped and ran on.  Micah fell to the ground.  He felt the muscles of his arm convulse and tighten.  The shadow had reached the horses.  With his left hand Micah raised his shotgun and fired each barrel, but he knew as soon as he had fired that he had missed, and the whooping Kiowa mounted a horse and rode off into the darkness.

Ramon knelt over the girl.  He raised her and wrapped her in one of the Kiowa’s blankets. “Come, niña. We must go home. Can you ride?”

The girl didn’t answer, but pointed at one of the dead Kiowas.

“I know, niña. I know.”

Micah walked over to them. “Sorry, Ramon, I missed him.  He clubbed me afore I could see him.”

“Well, two of them are dead anyway. Are you alright? Nothing broken?”

“My arm will be stove up a while, but I’m alright. How’s the girl?”

“She will be fine, I think.” Ramon broke open his pistol and loaded another cylinder.  “Let’s gather up the horses and girl and get away from here.  The Indian horses have halters, and the Garrison horses still have their bridles in their mouths.  One of them has a lariat we can use to tie the horses together.”

“What about the other Kiowa?”

“He’s long gone.  If he goes back to his camp, he’ll make up some story to explain himself.  My guess is that he will try to hook up with another band somewhere, bragging about he made coup on some armed white man in the dark.”

When they reached their own horses, Ramon used their lariats to connect the halters of the captured and recovered horses.  “Are we going to take the girl into Jacksboro?”

“No.  I think most of her family moved to Forth Worth when the Indian raids started, but she has a cousin who lives along the Trinity, right outside of Jacksboro. She married Frederick O’Connor.  Not long after you left, Frederick went up to Kansas and signed on with the Yankee Cavalry where his brother was.  He hasn’t returned yet.  Maybe you or one of your friends killed him.”

“If he was a Yankee, and I pointed my gun at him, I killed him. But he ain’t dead. I saw him in Camp Ford. He was a prisoner. ” 

Ramon pulled a shirt from his saddlebag and pitched it to Micah. “You better put this on her if she’ll put it on.”

He held the shirt out to Ruthie.  “Okay, Ruthie, you want to put this on?”

She shrunk away and tightened up into a ball. “No.  No.  No.”

“I ain’t gonna hurt you, girl. Put on the damn shirt.  She ain’t making no sense, Ramon.  She don’t want to put on the shirt, and I don’t feel right sitting looking at her like this.”

“She’s probably lost her mind over what she’s been through. Calm her as you would a horse.”

“I ain’t never been good with horses like you were.  Now you hold still, crazy girl.” Micah took one of her arms and inserted it into the sleeve of the shirt.  He did the same with the other, then poked her head through the opening.  Grasping her by the wrists, he lifted her arms so that Ramon’s huge shirt slipped down her body.  The shirt seemed to have a calming influence on her.

Micah hoisted her up to Ramon.  “She’s too crazy for me to ride with, and I don’t think she can ride on her own. You tote her on your horse till we’re sure she will be all right.  I’ll try to herd these no-good Kiowa horses along.”

The sun rose just as they crossed the Red River.  Ruthie rode between Chavez and Micah.  She stopped her horse. Micah drew alongside side of her. “What’s wrong, Ruthie?”

“I got blood on my face.” She laughed. “You do too. Injun blood.  See?”

Micah looked down into the water at his own bloody reflection.

Chapter Fifteen: the Month the Babies Cry

Chapter Fifteen: Ruthie Taken

As the Ranger caravan plodded slowly back to Jacksboro, they saw a plume of black smoke in the near distance.
“Smoke signals?” one ranger asked.
“No. It’s a house burning, “ Ramon said. “The Garrisons have a place along the Brazos. My guess is that it’s theirs.   Captain, we should make sure they are safe.”
“Let’s go there and check on them. Maybe they’re just burning brush. We need water anyway.”
“They ain’t burning brush this time of year, fool!” Micah said. “The Garrison’s are related to Erin.”
As the unit changed directions, using the smoke of the burning Garrison house as a mark, Ramon said, “There will be no one alive when we get there.”
“Why’s that?” Captain Howard asked.
“We call the Brazos the deadline for good reason. ”
“Let’s hope you are wrong.”
When the Rangers reached the Garrison farm, they found three charred bodies in the smoking cabin—a man, his wife, and one teenage boy.
“Anyone missing?” Captain Howard asked.
“They have a daughter too, Ruthie. She’s a little older than the brother.”
“Where is she? Is she hiding nearby?”
“I am sure they took her captive,” Ramon said.
“Aw, hell,” one Ranger said. “Always a step behind the damn Indians and a dollar short.”
“We need to go and fetch her back,” Micah said.
“We can’t pursue them with these wounded. We need to get them to a doctor before infection sets in and we lose one,” one of the walking Rangers said.
“I think someone should go and get her before she comes to harm,” Micah said.
“Well, why don’t you just hop on your horse and skedaddle after them.”
“Maybe I can get you a horse while I’m at it. Or maybe Jacob will loan you his and you can ride with me.
“He ain’t about to take my horse,” Jacob said. “He done traded his off to the Comanches.”
Ramon knelt and studied the ground. “This is not the same war party. There’s only three sets of footprints and the prints are wrong for Comanches—their feet aren’t as stubby as a Comanche’s would be. They put the girl on a horse, and it looks like they took a couple of the Garrison horses. They left early last evening. I think they’re headed toward the Red River. Means they’re probably Kiowa who came down the corridor.”
“Any volunteers want to go after them?” Captain Howard asked.
“Ramon and I will go,” Micah said. “Ain’t quite got Indian killing out of my system yet.”
“Ramon?” the captain asked.
“Yes, I will go. This boy is as crazy as his father was. I must stay with him.”
“I can kill the lot of them by myself once I find them. I only wanted you along so I wouldn’t lose their trail, Ramon.”
Captain Howard gathered a few haversacks from the men. “You can take whatever rations we have left. We can limp on back to Jacksboro. After I get these wounded men in and replenish our supplies, we’ll catch up with you.”
“We’ll likely be back by then,” Micah said.
“Stop at the Red River. We don’t have authority to follow them into Indian
Micah spat. “No one’s going to care where these Indians die.”
“Do you want to take the Tonkawas?” Captain Howard asked.
Micah, said, “Naw, I don’t reckon we’ll be eating any of these Kiowas anyways.”
Micah and Ramon followed the tracks and soon they were going directly north. Further on, they found an empty jug, one of them had thrown to the ground, then a torn blue calico dress.
“I reckon they’re drunk,” Micah said.
Ramon said, “If they found whiskey, they are. It’s either going to make them careless or real mean.”
“Why’d they throw down her dress?” Micah asked.
“They stripped her to humiliate her. It is what they do to female captives.” Ramon dismounted and studied the tracks. “One keeps doubling back. I think they know they’re being followed. We will need to kill him first if we can. He is their eyes and probably the leader. We’ll see if they pick up pace or head to harder ground. If they do, that’s a sign they know we’re coming up behind them.” He removed his felt hat and ran his hand through his black hair while he contemplated the terrain. “If they’re as drunk as I think, I’d guess they’ll lay up on the other side of the Red. We need to make up some time so we can catch them when they lay up.”


Chapter Fourteen: The Month the Babies Cry

Chapter Fourteen: The Raid

Somewhere along the Brazos, three spectres glide furtively through the shadows, through mesquite and prickly pear and muricated nettles clawing at their buckskin boots and long-fringed moccasins. Wearing the surreptitious night as a cloak on their sun-blackened skin, they move like a skulk of rabid fox, like a pride of feline prowlers seeking to escape observation.

Soon, their eyes, dark adaptations, fix on the yellow nimbus of candle and firelight streaming through the open cabin door. They hear the laughter of the four-member family. There is an explosion of sound as they rush inside the cabin, of men screaming as if not men. The man and boy are clubbed and axed down before they can reach their rifles, the woman cries to her god and struggles to rise from her chair, but a spear pins her back into it, and her hands drop the now blood splattered basket of embroidery and sewing that had occupied her last minutes.

There is a teenage girl inside the cabin. A warrior laughs at her hysterical and impotent flailing at his hands as he reaches for her. He hoists the screaming lump over a shoulder and she is carried outside and tied across one of her family’s own horses.   He slaps her until she stops screaming. As the war party slips into the darkness, the only sound is the crackling of the burning timbers.


Chapter Thirteen: The Month the Babies Cry

Here is chapter thirteen of my western novel, The Month the Babies Cry.

Chapter Thirteen

Ramon and the Tonkawas dismounted at a sandy area near a creek. The Tonks squatted, and Ramon knelt on one knee and together they studied the ground and talked quietly in Spanish.

“What’s wrong Ramon?” Micah asked

“The group we’re following has been joined with another. We’re not following a dozen anymore.”

“How many?”

“Maybe fifty. They’re pushing along a good-sized herd of cattle too.”

Micah felt their pace to be too slow, but knew since their grain supply was limited, he knew they must allow the horses to forage on the way.

The Minutemen moved northwest, circling back toward the Trinity, following the tracks of the unshod Indian horses now mingled with those of shod stolen horses. After they crossed Lost Creek again, another twenty horse tracks merged in with the war party, then a few miles later, another group of horses before the trail turned north.   The horse prints were spaced closely together, indicating the riders were moving along leisurely. Now and then they would see a scrap of cloth or an odd object taken from a ranch.

“Ramon, what do you reckon they’re thinking? They sure ain’t in no hurry to get where they’re going.”

“Their numbers make them arrogant. They know that most of the fighting men left years ago.   They think this is their land again. If they knew that there are only a couple of experienced Indian fighters in this bunch, they’d be attacking us now. Take a look at this bug of ragamuffins—mostly boys, old men, men from the war who are still stove up from their wounds. Would you be very worried if you were a Comanche? They are farmers, not Rangers. ” Ramon raised his arm and pointed. “Look.”

Micah saw a lone wagon. “This is close to where I found Juan. Must be his parents’ wagon.” He spurred his horse and rode over.

The wagon was more like a cart, in the style of the old Comancheros—a single axle with two giant, solid cottonwood wheels. Some trash and scraps were strewn on the ground, but everything of substance had been taken by the Comanches. The two oxen pulling the cart were dead on the ground. Indians had killed, skinned, and butchered them. A few bones lay scattered about a fire. A scalped Mexican man and a woman lay close together, their sun-blackened bodies naked, bristling with arrows, mutilated. Micah noticed how close their hands were to each other, almost as if they had flicked fingers in one last pitiful, painful moment.

“We should stop and bury them,” Ramon said. “Their skin is turning black. We might not have another chance to bury them—pigs and buzzards will have eaten them before we can get back to them.”

“I’ll stay behind and bury them. You need to go on with the others and find the Comanches. I’ll catch up when I’m done. Even with the Tonkawas, I’m half-afraid this bunch of peckerwoods couldn’t follow a trail.”

Micah stepped off his horse and tied it to the cart. He took the militia’s shovel from one of the pack mules, found a sandy area, and started digging.

“We can’t stop, Evans,” Captain Howard said. “We’re too close to them and I don’t want to lose them.”

“Well, Captain, you and the boys go on and I’ll catch up when I’m done. I ain’t gonna mutiny on you. It’s just that I was the one who found their son alive, and I just don’t think it would be right for me to not bury them.”

“Alright. Hurry up with it and catch up. Troop, let’s move on and see if we can find these Comanches before dark.”

“Yes, Captain,” Ramón said. “They have circled south now, instead of going out to the plains. That means they’re not finished raiding yet.”

Micah watched the Rangers move on. He dug down in the sandy soil till he hit rock, then after he yanked the arrows from their bodies, he dragged the couple over and laid them together into the three-foot-deep hole.   He covered them with dirt and rocks, then he cut and trimmed two mesquite limbs and fashioned a crude cross that he hammered into the ground between them with a stone. Studying the cross a minute, he yanked the cross from the ground. The Comanches had been known to dig up the graves of Texans. Someday he might be able to come back and mark it properly.

“I’ve got to go now,” he said to them. “I’ve never been good at talking with the dead, but I found your boy, and me and Chavez will take care of him the best we can.   I’ll find these Indians and make things right. I reckon you’re Catholic, so if I ever run into a priest, I’ll send him your way. Other than that, I don’t know what else I can do for you.”

He mounted his horse and held him to a steady gait so that he could catch up with the militia.

As Micah neared them, he saw that they had stopped.

On the horizon, Micah saw why–a line of Comanche horsemen faced them. Micah joined the militia.

“What do you think, Ramon?” Captain Howard asked.

“I reckon they want to fight. Being we’ve only got twenty men, they think they’ve got an advantage. They might be giving us a chance to run.”

“If we had any sense,” Micah said, “we would run, but in the war I lost all the sense my father put in me. We can whip them, but they’re likely to bloody us if it turns bad.”

“How many are there?” Captain Howard asked as he lowered his binoculars.

Micah counted horses, though he knew Howard had already counted them. He had fought under officers like this before. Howard was either scared shitless or double-checking himself. Micah thought the latter. “I count about forty. From the tracks, Ramon said there were close to fifty, so maybe the others are around somewhere too, or up ahead pushing the stolen stock along.”

“ Forty. That’s what I counted.”

Micah pulled out his Whitworth rifle and used the scope to look the Indians over. “Well, it looks like they’re putting on paint now. Probably giving each other courage talks until we get closer.   They’re looking for a fight, but then we are too. I guess that’s the calling of being a Ranger.” He took another look through the scope. They were shaking their shields and the constant movement of the feathers fastened to the edges of the shields bewildered his eye.

The captain handed Chavez his binoculars. “Take a look, Ramon.”

Ramon raised the binoculars and studied the Comanches. “They have fought before. Did you see their shields, Micah? Bear teeth, scalps, and horsetails are hanging from most of them. Means they are seasoned warriors. They will be tough.”

“How many did you say there are?” the Smith boy asked.

Micah heard the nervousness in the boy’s voice.

“About twenty,” the captain said. He leaned his arm on the pommel of his saddle and spat.

“Sure looks like a bunch of them. Maybe we should make a run for it,” Smith said.

“No,” Ramon said. He drew out his rifle from its scabbard. “We had better get ready to fight, hijo. Our horses are tired, so we couldn’t outrun them. We’d have to turn and fight them anyway. Let’s do it now and get it over with.”

The Indians slowly started toward them, some of the riders veering toward the left flank.

“They’re wanting to circle us,” Ramon said.

“I see it,” Micah said. “My father said that the Comanches were the best horsemen in Texas, and that until his units learned their tactics, they gave them fits.”

“Christ, There’s too many of them for us to fight,” another Ranger said.

“Well, let’s see if we can even the odds a little.” Micah slipped off his horse and laid the barrel across the saddle.   “Ramon, grab his reins so he don’t jump on me. Steady, Colbert,” he said. “You done this before. Let’s see if we can slow them down a bit.”

“Don’t waste your bullet,” Captain said. “They’re too far away.”

“I’d guess they’re about five hundred yards.” Micah sighted down the brass four-power scope, squeezed off a shot knocked one from his horse.

“I’ll be damned,” Captain Howard said. “That must be a half-mile away. I never seen a gun that could shoot that far before.”

“It’s a Whitworth. Made in England. A friend gave it to me.”

The Comanches hesitated, puzzled by the fact they had lost a man at this great a distance. Micah knew the man had fallen off his horse before they heard the shot. He tore open another cartridge with his teeth, squeezed the powder and hexagonal .45 caliber bolt into the barrel, pressed in the cartridge wadding, and rammed it down. He fitted a cap, took aim and dropped another. The Indians whooped, quirted their horses, and rode toward them furiously.

“I was hoping they’d turn and run,” Micah said. “I guess they do want a fight.” He loaded, aimed, and a third rider fell. “I can get one more before they reach us. Captain, you reckon your boys can shoot some of them when they get inside a hundred yards?”

“Dismount, men! Take cover if you can find it. Smith, Evans, Fogle—you hold the horses. Pass on your rifles when the other men fire. Steady, men. Take careful aim.” Captain Parker pulled his two-band Enfield from its sheath.   “You’re sure taking your time loading, Micah.”

“Can’t load this rifle in a hurry. Captain, I say we should use our rifles till they get close, then mount our horses, charge them, and finish them off with our pistols.”

“That’s pretty big talk for a runt like yourself,” one Ranger said. “You can chase them if you want, but I ain’t gonna take an arrow,” one Ranger said. “I hear the Comanches poison’em with dead skunks. I’m doin’ what the captain said and get to a safer piece of ground where I can shoot and have some cover besides these scrubby mesquite trees.”

Micah knew the man had fought with a Missouri Yankee infantry unit, but then deserted. “If you didn’t come out to fight Indians, you should have stayed at the house,” Micah said. “But if you want to go hide in the rocks, go on. Quit yakking and get that Springfield to working.”

Micah had dropped his fourth one when the Captain ordered the men to fire. Micah cursed. Only two Comanches went down. He had also heard a rifle misfire. “Captain, your men don’t even know how to check their rifles before a firefight?” He loaded, sighted, and dropped another. The Rangers had not finished reloading when the Comanches let loose their first volley of arrows. One ranger caught an arrow in his right shoulder.

“God damn it! God damn it!” he said.

The Comanches were now close enough that Micah could see their faces and hear the thunder of the unshod hooves on the hard clay ground and a steady shower of arrows descended upon them.

One Comanche, a sixteen-foot hooked lance in one hand, and a pistol in the other, was almost upon them, showing off by falling to one side of his horse’s flank and then swinging over the horse’s back to the other.   Micah sensed the Indian’s timing, and fired the Whitworth for the fifth time, and he could tell by the sound that the bullet had struck flesh even before the Comanche crumpled to the ground.   Micah slung his Whitworth onto his back, mounted his horse, and pulled the shotgun from its sheath. “Let’s go boys. Better get on your horses. You don’t want to get caught on foot out here in the open.”

“Micah,” Ramon said. “I’ll ride toward the ones circling left of us, you go to the right of the rest. Entiende?”

“Yeah, you want to bunch them up.” Micah turned his horse and rode behind the unit so that he could face the lead riders who were trying to get behind them, knowing the unit couldn’t afford to let the wheeling mass of warriors encircle them completely.   Each barrel of the shotgun took an Indian down, and he clubbed another off his horse with the, then slid it back into its sheath.

Pulling a pistol from the saddle holster, he reined in his horse, and shot another. The Indian managed to stay on his horse, slapping at his buckskin shirt that had burst into flame. Another dropped down on the side of his horse as he rode by. Since Micah didn’t have a clear shot at the Indian, he shot the horse down, then another horse racing by with only a hand and foot of its rider in sight. One of his bullets hit the shield of another, and Micah knew the .36 bullet had deflected. “Damn it,” he said. He lowered his aim from the shield and put two bullets into the Comanche’s leg and watched that horse go down with its wounded rider.

A group of warriors swarmed toward him, and Micah instinctively spurred his horse and turned him so that he could not get caught in the middle of them. He heard the strained breathing of his horse, and Ramon’s booming .44’s. He sighted Ramon in the melee, and headed toward him. The big pistol bucked in Ramon’s hand, and Micah saw him unhorse two warriors. “Micah, cover me while I reload my pistolas,” he said.

Micah pulled his horse in between Ramon and the Indians. “Who’s got the mules?” Micah shouted.

“The Smith boy and Jacob.” Ramon broke open his revolver and replaced his cylinder. “Can you see the others? They’re not trying to run, are they?”

“No, but every man but the Captain looks like he could shit in their pants.” Micah shoved the spent pistol into its holster and withdrew his second. “The Comanches will get tired of losing warriors and run directly.”

“Not that one yonder. Spear carrier. I shot his horse down, but he didn’t run. Pinned his war bonnet to the ground. Must be seeking a big coup. The only way he’ll move is if one of his own comes and removes the spear.”

“I’ll fetch him.” Micah spurred his horse toward the bow-wielding Comanche fifty yards ahead of him who had pinned his bonnet sash to the ground with his own lance. Micah rode directly toward him, hoping that an arrow wouldn’t get him before he could drop him with the pistol. You want to die, Micah thought. Well, your friends are going to miss you. Micah shot him three times, then when the man crumbled, the others in the band circled away, working together in pairs to pick up their dead. Micah saw them herding some Ranger horses with them.

Just out of spite, Micah dismounted, loaded the Whitworth, and planted a bullet in a warrior’s spine. The warrior’s horse was herded into the bunch with the stolen Ranger horses. This time none came back to pick up the dead warrior.

Micah loaded it again, then pulled out his shotgun and loaded it. Micah bit his tongue to keep from cussing. The Rangers in the unit had emptied their rifles and pistols, but as far as Micah could tell, he and Ramon had killed eight, while the rest of the unit had only killed three.

“That’s some rifle you got. You ever shoot Yanks with it?” O’Connor said.

“Yes, a few. The dead Yankees were my gift to the Confederacy.” Micah saw Ramon ride over to the Comanche he had shot in the leg. “Watch him, Ramon, he could be playing possum. I only hit him in the leg.”

Ramon shot the Comanche in the head, then did the same to the two others the Comanches had failed to recover. Then, uttering oaths in Spanish, he shot each again in his ritual of death, a red baptismal sprinkling of the Texas earth, seeing in their dead bodies the ghosts of others. Ramon searched the Comanches, taking their weapons, amulets and pouches. He lifted one by the hair and pulled out his Bowie.

The captain saw him and shouted, “Chavez! Leave him be. We’ll have none of that.”

Chavez hesitated, then slipped the knife into its sheath and dropped the Comanche’s head to the ground. He started walking back toward his horse, then turned back and began kicking the dead warrior, hooking kick after kick into the corpse.

“That Mexican sure don’t like Comanches none,” one Ranger said.

“They ain’t ever give him a reason to like them much,” Micah replied.

The Captain shouted, “You peckerwoods clean and reload your rifles and pistols if you ain’t done it already!”

A couple of younger minutemen began doing so. Micah shook his head. “Damn youngsters ain’t got no cause to be out on an expedition like this, Captain.”

“They got to learn sometime,” Howard replied.

“My father always said that experience isn’t the best teacher—but you can count on her being the hardest teacher.”

“Your father was right, but sometimes there just ain’t no other way to teach a man something. If a man’s able to live through it, it can be a good thing.”

The Rangers regrouped under the mesquite scrub. Since the sun was going down, they pitched camp. The unit had two men severely wounded and one dead—the Smith boy who had stayed to hold the horses. A Comanche had ridden directly to the horses, hoping to spook them and leave the rangers on foot. He had clubbed the Smith boy with a sling club. The captain had ridden over in time to shoot the Comanche before he could cut the mules loose or kill Jacob who was trying to reload his pistol with his one good hand.

The Rangers also had two horses and their pack mule killed in the line of duty.   After they tended to the wounded and buried the Smith boy, the captain said a few words in the mule’s honor. “Our dear Jenny will be sorely missed. Amen. Now, if you boys are ready to eat, let’s get her skinned out and have supper.”


*          *          *

After they ate, Micah unfastened the tin cup hanging from his haversack and filled it with water from his canteen. He fastened a swab to his ramrod, dipped it and the water, and swabbed out the Whiteforth’s barrel, then oiled the gun. After the rifle, he cleaned the shotgun and pistols. Ramon sat down beside him with his guns. Micah passed him the small corked bottle of oil.

“I see you have not forgotten to quickly clean your weapons.”

“Better twenty minutes now, then two hours later.”

Captain Howard walked over to them. “Micah and Ramon, I’m giving you sentry duty for the second watch of the night.”

Si, mi capitán,” Micah said.

After Howard moved on, Micah asked Ramon, “You reckon the Comanches will be back?”

Ramon blew into an empty pistol cylinder, looked through it, then deliberately loaded it. “They may not be done with us yet, hijo. There’s still more of them than us. We shamed them. Their leader will want to return and teach us a lesson. Such pride makes them dangerous, but it also makes them predictable. We will kill more of them tonight.”

Micah was ordered to patrol on foot the camp’s perimeter. Ramon wrapped himself in a blanket and stationed himself under a mesquite where he could watch the line of hobbled and staked-out horses and mules.

Micah slowly and quietly prowled the camp’s perimeter, his shotgun cradled in his arm. Coyotes carried on in the distance, and the sound of the horses grazing mingled with the snores and coughs of the sleeping rangers.

Every hour he circled back to Ramon, stopping when he neared him and signaling with a short whistle. After his third trip around the camp, he sat down next to Ramon.

“Captain says we have to go back to Jacksboro,” Ramon said. “With two men wounded, and four of the men on foot, he says we can’t do much more good out here.”

“How in hell did the Comanches get so many of our horses?”

“They must have got them when they killed Smith.”

“I think some of us ought to go on and hunt the rest down. Let the ones who couldn’t hold on to their horses walk on back.”

“The War changed you, Micah. Your fierceness can be a good quality. But when los indios are gone, what will you do with that fierceness?”

“What did you do with it? I remember how you and Pa used to talk about the Indians.”

Ramon’s eyes fixed in dark aperture on a point in the darkness. He touched Micah’s arm and pointed.

Micah saw the man-shadow, crouching and slowly creeping their way.   He was nearly to the horses. Ramon slipped his pistol from its holster and motioned for Micah to circle toward the right and that he would go straight ahead.

Micah readied the shotgun and slipped from tree to tree, hoping that the Indian would make the mistake of stepping into a moonlit area.   Ramon’s pistol barked and a body thudded to the ground. Micah heard moccasin-clad feet trotting through the brush, and a spectre passed by him. Micah raised and cocked the shotgun. The spectre stopped and searched for the sound.   Micah fired his shotgun. The shadow reeled in a death-dance and fell. Micah slipped into the shadow of another mesquite and waited.

The camp had come to life. Men shouted in confusion. “Be quiet, damn you,” the captain’s shouted. “Take a position and be still, you idiots! Sentries! Chavez!”

Ramon’s voice called out. “We are here, Capitain. Did you get the second one, Micah?”

“Yeah, he’s down. Were there any more?”

“I only saw the two.”

“Captain,” Micah said, “send a couple of men out to watch the horses while Ramon and I slip around and see what we can find. They probably came on foot, but they may have horses nearby.”

“Are you sure you got them?” one of the Rangers called out.

“He’s sure, you idgit,” the captain said, “or he wouldn’t have answered anything at all.”

When he woke the next morning, Micah poured himself a cup of coffee. He looked toward the horses and through blurred eyes and saw Ramon standing over the two dead Comanches. Ramon’s fingers briefly touched the handle of his large Bowie, and he muttered words Micah couldn’t make out, words with memories and rage buried deep inside them. He gulped down the hot coffee, refilled the tin cup and carried it to Ramon.

“Thought you might like a cup of this coffee. Sure beats that sweet potato coffee I had to drink sometimes in Louisiana. Everything alright, Ramon?”

Ramon took the cup, blew across the lip, and carefully sipped at the coffee. “Esta bien, Micah. Two lodges will now be without warriors. Their families will be hungry. Do you know what the Comanches call this time of year, Micah?”

It was late February. “No, I don’t.”

“They call it, turuetuu nahweetuu tsihasuatuu. In Spanish, it would be, El mes cuando los niños llorar para comida, the month the babies cry. Many nights, I have heard these babies, Anglo and Tejano babies, crying. And now at night, when I sit at table with my family, our bellies full, our bodies sheltered by our cabin, I will hear their babies crying, and I will know that they will feel what we have felt.”

Chapter Twelve: Month the Babies Cry

Chapter Twelve: Militia

At Jacksboro, Micah and Ramon joined a dozen men gathered in front of the general store. They tied their horses and stood in a queue in front of a table, behind which sat a man with quill and paper. He had the confident, tired look of an experienced Ranger or cavalryman, wearing his brace of pistols high on his waist. His skin was tan and hard, his eyes blue, and his long hair dark with gray streaks. His lips moved as he read the lines he wrote. Behind him, sprawled on the ground were two Tonkawas, dressed in civilian clothes, but wrapped in blankets.

When Micah reached the table, the man laid down his quill. He looked first at Micah’s boots, then his eyes took in his clothes, and finally focused on the silver star pinned on the front of Micah’s hat. The Texas accouterment had been fashioned from a silver Mexican coin.

“I’m Captain Howard. I’ll be the commander of this unit. Name.”

“Micah Evans.”

“Do you have your own horse and weapons?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Both in working order?”

“As good as they ever worked.”

“You ever fought Indians before?”

“Not personally, but my daddy was a Ranger, so I reckon it’s in my blood.”

“I reckon that qualifies you. You have boots instead of brogans, and since they are in good shape, you must have been cavalry or mounted infantry.”

“I was both at one time or another. Depending on what Taylor and Captain Allison had in mind that particular day.”

“I have met General Taylor. I was with the Texas 22nd Cavalry. I know your captain too. Captain Allison is a fine leader, even if he does have a fondness for the liquor.”

“Yes, sir, he is a good commander. As far as his fondness for liquor, that’s a fact. We shared a drink now and then. He gave a couple of us furlough so we could check on our families.”

“If you’re on furlough, why do you want to join the militia?”

“It’s cause of all that money I know Texas is going to pay me for risking my life joining up with this experienced Injun-killing militia. I ain’t gonna be paid in Confederate money, am I?”

One of the men in the line snickered.

Captain Howard covered his grin with his hand. “No, if it were in Confederate money, I’ve got enough of that worthless paper at home to pay the whole unit myself. No, the great state of Texas says it will pay you men in gold coin upon our return. I trust that will be acceptable.”

“Good. Maybe I can use some of that Texas gold to replace the stock the Comanches stole from my folks’ place.”

He held up a sheet of paper and ran a scarred finger down a list of names. “Evans. Yes, I see the occupants of your father’s home was a victim of the recent depredations. I am truly sorry for your loss. I didn’t know your father personally, but I have heard of him. He seems to be held in high esteem by the residents here.”

“How come you’re just getting around to going after them?”

“The war has been difficult, Mr. Evans. We needed the time to equip the

unit and find enough able men to have an effective expedition.”

Micah hooked a thumb over his shoulder at Ramon. “I see you got these Tonkawas, but Chavez here is the best tracker in the county. He’ll lead you right to them. He was a Ranger too, down in South Texas. He and my father rode together with Juan Seguin.”

“Good. We can always use a good tracker. Welcome to the unit, Micah Williams. Mr. Chavez, I’ll take your information next.”

After all had mustered, the captain called for them to line up. The fourteen militiamen moved into an uneven line. They carried a wide assortment of long arms—a couple of flintlocks, some shotguns, hunting rifles, and a few Enfields and Springfields. However, all carried revolvers.

Captain Howard studied them a minute and then said, “Some of you are experienced soldiers. Some of you have served in Ranger regiments before, so you know that this work is dangerous, and though I intend on finding these raiders, there is no guarantee that we will do so, but you will all be paid upon our return whether we engage the enemy or not. Our mission is important. This land, our stock, our families do not belong to the Comanches and they must learn this lesson. I intend to give the savages hard instruction. We will leave first thing in the morning. You men raise your right hand for your oath.”

All of the Minutemen raised their hands, except for Jacob Matthews. His empty right shirtsleeve hung limply down his side.   He had lost the arm after a skirmish with the Yankees along the Red River in Louisiana and then was discharged. He bragged that when the cannon shrapnel had taken the arm off cleanly at the shoulder, the men in his unit had seen it sail by and the hand slap their Lieutenant on the face.

Jacob shrugged when the Captain looked at him. “I ain’t got a right arm to raise, Captain. It ain’t going to hurt my ability to kill Comanches though. I can shoot my pistol with my left hand better than most men with a right hand.”

“I believe you. Have the man next to you raise your sleeve. That’ll be close enough.”


Rey Antonio and Rey Feo by Kena Sosa: A Short Review

As a native Texan, a children’s author, and a storyteller, I am always impressed when I find a wonderful new (at least to me) children’s book and children’s author. Rey Antonio and Rey Feo, written by Kena Sosa and illustrated by Jessica McClure, was a serendipitous find for me. The book relates a story of San Antonio’s ten day  Fiesta, held since 1891 in April.

The author’s language and style of writing  is lively and sensory. The story tells of a family’s adventure and their experience of the San Antonio Fiesta.  The story is told in both English and in Spanish.  This bilingual approach makes it a fine book for ESL students or for students wanting to learn some Spanish in the context of dialogue.

The story is followed by a Fact File, a list of sources one can consult for more information on the Fiesta, and a glossary of Spanish terms used. McClure’s beautiful artwork follows and illustrates the narrative well. With this book, Sosa, a Dallas educator, has proven she knows how to create a good story and communicate it effectively to both children and adults.  This story will take you into the San Antonio Fiesta.

You can see more about or order the book on its Amazon site HERE:  The book was published in 2015 by 4RV Publishing.