Word count 2,155
I ride like the Devil is after me… hell, he probably is. I bet he’s none too happy that I’ve escaped. And neither will El Capitán be once he learns what happened. Fact is, I’m sure he’s gonna be as mad as an angry cougar. Maybe I should pay him a surprise visit – just to let him know he was wrong. Yeah, maybe I’ll do just that.
Mierda! Am I loco or what? If I go back I might get caught again. Nope! No way. I’ve been lucky enough to regain my freedom; I shouldn’t try to tempt Fate. Nothing’s worth losing this chance… nope, nothing at all.
I kick the horse’s flank and the beast responds quickly. I’m sure glad that this horse is sound and surefooted. It wouldn’t do to break my neck when I have a chance to get my life back. Now, where the hell should I go? I can’t possibly go straight to Lancer, not dressed like this. Think, Madrid, think. There ought to be a place where I can get a change of clothes, a good gun… Mierda! My gun! El Capitán’s got it! Dios, gotta get it back, one way or another.
I turn my horse and I head back where I came from… skirting around the execution ground and heading toward the small town I just left this morning to face my destiny. Can’t believe I’m doing it. This is crazy… totally loco. Probably the stupidest stunt I’ve ever pulled, and in broad daylight at that.
I can’t do it… I just can’t. It’s too risky. I keep telling that to myself as I continue to ride toward town. Mierda! I’m doing it. What’s wrong with me? Risking everything for a stupid modified gun.
Thing is, I know myself and I just know that I won’t back down. No, I won’t back down.
I guess I’m lucky or maybe Fate is really on my side. It’s strange though… no one’s around the house where I was locked up. I sneak around the back – no sense going up front and risking coming face to face with him or one of his men. Slowly and silently, I make my way inside the place… Yep, I’m really lucky – nobody’s in. The place is deserted. Just like the village actually. Where the hell is everybody? Hell, I suppose they’ve heard the gunshots and have all gone to see what happened… along with El Capitán.
I don’t really care. Getting my gun back with plenty of bullets is what’s important here. Grabbing some money, too, if I’m real lucky. I step into the room that he uses as his office and I go directly to the desk. Where could he have put my gun? Think, Madrid, think.
I open the top drawer – that’s where I would’ve put it in his place. And that’s exactly where it is! There are even a couple of boxes of bullets right alongside my gun and my rig, my bracelet and my chain. I grab everything. Now, it would be nice if I could find some money. Where would he hide his money? Ah! Soy idiota. His bedroom… of course he’d hide it in his bedroom.
I climb the stairs two by two… four rooms up here to check – make that three, since one of them is where they kept me prisoner. I open the door of the first one on my left and guess what? Luck’s still with me, it’s the one I’m looking for!
I need to hurry. Sooner or later, Lady Luck will leave my side and, frankly, I prefer if it’s later, much later. I search the room and, finally, I find the money stashed in a small bag right in the middle of a pot of flowers. Who would’ve thought El Capitán would keep flowers in his bedroom? He can still be full of surprises!
As I’m about to head out, an idea crosses my mind. On a corner table I spot some paper and a quill. With a smile, I open the inkpot and dip the quill in it. Then, I write a short note and leave it on El Capitán’s pillow. I read it aloud, just to see how it feels saying those words as if he were right in front of me – “Usted se equivocado, hijo de puta! Madrid” (You were mistaken, son of a bitch! Madrid.)
Oh, how I’d love to be a little fly and watch his reaction once he comes back and reads that note. I bet he’s gonna be mighty pissed off. But, I can’t wait. I have to hurry and head over to the border. I still need to find a change of clothes, but now I won’t have to steal them as I’ve some money, courtesy of El Capitán. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing.
I strap the rig to my hips, tie the holster to my thigh and make sure my gun is in working order. Then I step out of the house and I vault onto the Lieutenant’s horse and I ride toward freedom.
I make it to the border less than two hours later and I ride over to the Americano Nogales. I’m not really safe, though. Even if the Rurales won’t cross over to the American side of the town, they can still send someone after me. I can’t stay here… I have to continue riding until I’m far enough from the border to be safe – as safe as I can be that is.
A few miles outside Nogales, I change direction and head north. I ride until I reach the San Xavier Del Bac Mission where a good friend of mine lives. He’ll be able to provide me with a change of clothes. And it won’t be too soon, as folks are already starting to give me strange looks. I don’t blame them. I must look pretty strange in prisoner’s clothes. My reputation would be tarnished were I to stand in the middle of a street dressed like this. What? Madrid in plain white clothes!!! Nope, wouldn’t do.
Padre Domingo greets me with a huge smile and a bear hug. Once I tell him what I need, he climbs onto his mule and heads over to a small village near the Mission. He comes back a couple of hours later and hands me a salmon-colored embroidered shirt, a pair of leather pants with conchos on the side and a short jacket – just as I like. I thank him profusely. He sure knows where my taste lies. I can’t tell how much better I feel with clothes that fit me just right.
I give him more than half the money I stole from El Capitán to cover the cost of the clothes and to use for whatever he may need for the Mission. He’s helped me before – saved my life, in fact. It’s the least I can do for him and those poor people he’s taking care of.
He wants me to stay for a while and I agree to but only for a few days. My horse needs the rest and, to tell the truth, so do I. I’ve been through a lot lately and my mind is kinda tired. I need to regain some energy and this is the only place where I can do it in total safety.
A couple of days later, I leave the Mission, feeling refreshed and ready to face my new destiny. I head west. In a few days, I’ll be in California. The Old Man Lancer had better look out because once I’ve listened to him and take his one thousand dollars, I’ll put a bullet between his eyes.
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