Copyright© 2020 by UtIdArWa
I must have fallen asleep and started dreaming. I thought I was dreaming of the screams when I woke up. As I jerked awake, Pointer reached over and laid his hand on my arm.
“Quiet now, Doc.” He whispered. “Seems the neighbors have found some of our surprises. They started moving around about a half-hour ago. They might be getting ready for another party.”
That’s when the shooting started again. It wasn’t as strong as before, not as many guns. And they seemed to be aimed elsewhere. Sergeant Pointer and I restrained ourselves and held our fire till we had a good target.
I had just started reloading my Colt when someone grabbed my ankles and yanked me from under the ambulance. As I rolled over, I was staring into the face of one of the ugliest human beings I had ever seen or smelt. His face was smeared with dirt, and a large eye was painted in the middle of his forehead in yellow war paint.
He was leering at me, and I could see that he was missing more teeth than he still had. His breath was putrid. In his right hand was a war club with a large stone at the head. He had it raised and was about to bring it down when he paused. I could see confusion and surprise in his eyes. That quickly changed when I raised my Colt and put a .45 round through that yellow eye.
He flew back off of me and lay still. I waited a moment to make sure and then crawled back under the ambulance.
Sergeant Pointer glanced at me as I continued reloading my pistol. “Everything alright, Doc?”
“Sure thing, Sergeant, I was just keeping an eye out.”
“Heck of a time to check things out, Doc.” As he said that, he raised his rifle and fired.
Things calmed down again shortly after that. We could hear them moving around and talking. But they had gotten smart enough to stay out of sight. As time went by, even that quieted down.
At around 5:30 in the morning, all hell broke loose. There was yelling and shouting. Gunfire sounded, and we could hear obscenities in the distance. The unusual part was that none of this was directed at us.
Sergeant Pointer started laughing. “You can settle down now, Doc, listen carefully.”
“Why’s that, Sergeant?”
“You hear those horse’s squealing? I’d be willing to bet that our guys have found their remuda. Those nags will be halfway to El Paso by first light. Our friends are afoot now. And that is a death sentence in the desert.”
“So, everything is safe now?”
“Oh, hell no. Those folks have got only one option now. They need horses, and we’ve got the only ones in town at the moment. I figure at least one more attack, sometime after daybreak.”
When I asked, He said that it would probably be OK to take a look around. But keep my eyes open.
My first stop was the aid station. Lieutenant Ellenwood was conscious and lucid. I filled him in on the situation. Other than his head wound, we hadn’t had any serious injuries. There was no dead on our side. The other folks, well, who knows.”
Ellenwood listened to my report and then called for Corporal Smith. He was standing by. “Smith,” He said, “You see that big pile of brush under the creosote bush? The pile I told you to stack before I got hit?”
“Well, I want you to set that brush pile to fire. Wait for first light, then fire ‘er up.”
While he was talking to Smith, I glanced to the east. It was noticeably brighter. “Lieutenant, Sergeant Pointer expects another attack at about this time. With your permission, I’d like to join him.”
“Sure thing Doc. It isn’t like I might want a bit of fun too.”
I handed him the Colt that I had been using all night. “Here you go, Lieutenant. It’s your weapon, after all.” As he checked the load, I said, “Good hunting, Lieutenant,” I turned and headed over to the cook fire. I grabbed two cups of coffee and headed back to the ambulance. As I passed it, I paused as Corporal Smith was lighting the brush pile. In moments the fire quickly grew and engulfed the bush. A thick, oily, black smoke started to rise into the sky. There was no wind, and the column of smoke rose straight up.
When I joined Sergeant Pointer, I handed him his coffee. He took a sip and grimaced. “Tell me something, Doc.”
“What’s that, Sergeant.”
“Is your coffee as bad as this stuff?”
I took a big sip. He was right, it was awful. “Sergeant, I don’t get much chance to make coffee nowadays. But I can guarantee my coffee would be better than this swill.” I tossed what was left in the cup into the dust in front of us and jacked a round into my Winchester.
And I was just in time. With a loud yell, six Comancheros jumped from the brush and started charging us. This time they knew where we were, and their aim was better. I felt a scorching burn run up my left arm, and a cloud of dust rose just in front of me. I ignored the pain and continued to fire.
Sergeant Pointer must have been doing the same because we both ran out of ammo at about the same time. As I was frantically pushing shells into my rifle, I noticed something. There was no shooting, and the dust and smoke was clearing. I saw six bodies in front of us. The closest was two feet away.
I started to say something to Sergeant Pointer when he interrupted me. “Quiet Doc,” He held his hand up, signaling for quiet.
At first, I heard nothing. But to be fair, my ears were ringing from the gunfire. Faintly at first, and growing louder, I could hear something Definitely out of place in any wilderness. I could hear a bugle sounding the charge.
When the lead element of the relief column passed by us. Sergeant Pointer climbed out of our fighting position. Mike saw the bandit with the yellow war paint lying there. He looked at me and asked, “Friend of yours?”
I chuckled, “Just somebody I met in passing. I didn’t care for his manners or his hygiene.”
As we walked through the camp, other defenders started coming out from their positions. Most had blank stares on their faces. They seemed to be very intent on checking their bodies for injuries.
That was when Sergeant Pointer mentioned my arm. “You seem to have a leak going on there, Doc. I think we need to get you over to the aid station.”
I looked at my arm. It was the strangest thing. I couldn’t feel any pain at first. But the more I looked at it. The pain started up. Sergeant Pointer could see it in my eyes. “Let’s go Doc,” He gently took my other arm and started pulling me along.
As the medics were finishing my bandages, who should show up, but Colonel Joshua Anderson himself. He walked his horse into the camp and handed the reins off to the Private at the remuda. He asked the Private something who pointed to me. Colonel Anderson continued on, stripping his gloves as he walked up.
“Well, Doctor, that was an outstanding job. You have broken the back of one of the largest Comanchero bands operating outside of Mexico.”
I sat there, open-mouthed. I couldn’t think of what to say.