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Wipe Out

 

Wipe Out

By James Hold

 

[Copyright 2017 James Roy Hold
Shakespir Edition]

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WIPE OUT

 

Fleetwood was mid-size city on the Oklahoma border where the Chisholm Trail crossed the Red River. Texas herders drove their cattle across the river and camped there, stopping for supplies before heading northward. Things always got lively when the cattlemen came to town. This night was no exception.

The Yegua Kid was cooling his heels on a bench across from the stage depot, alternately staring at the star spangled sky and watching the people milling about. One person in particular caught his eye, a small, slim woman, comely after a fashion though somewhat swarthy. The Kid guessed she was waiting for someone to arrive as she lacked any luggage which a passenger might carry. Her western dress did not sit well on her. It looked too large for her slender frame, as though she had not eaten in a while. This was confirmed by her leaning against the store post to support herself. It was just the sort of thing to draw attention from the wrong people.

“Whut have we here?” A couple of rowdies came to stand on either side of her. “Some redskin tryin’ to pass ‘erself off as a white woman.”

“Maybe she’s lookin’ to work th’ wag-tail saloon,” the second suggested.

“Aw, there’s no need fer that. We could help her earn a dollar out back.”

“A dollar? Fer a squaw? Hell, a nickel would be over-chargin’.”

“Is there a problem here?” the Yegua Kid materialized behind them. No one saw him cross the street, but then no one had been watching.

The two rowdies looked him over—the Kid wasn’t particularly tall or wide—and told him to mind his own business. The taller one emphasized this with a shove. That was a mistake on his part. Before he knew it, the tall rowdie found himself lying in the street laid out by the hardest punch he’d ever felt. The other rowdie went for his six-shooter but the Yegua Kid’s 45 seemed to leap from its holster and into the Kid’s hand.

“Now you mush-heads just mosey on home,” he told them, quietly. “And next time remember a lady’s a lady no matter where she comes from.”

He did not have to tell them twice. The varmints did as told and the Kid gave his attention to the Indian girl.

“Are you all right, miss? You look like you could use a bite to eat. Would you join me in a cup of coffee and a piece of pie?”

“That would be nice,” she smiled good-humoredly. “But do you think there’s room?”

“I’ll order a big cup,” the Kid smiled back.

“Then I accept. By the way, my name’s Mika.”

Arm in arm, the Yegua Kid escorted Mika inside the dining hall catty-corner from the stage depot. At first the owner objected to the presence of a redskin until the Kid told him, “What if I told you her folks came from Italy?”

“Oh,” the man blushed, “well, that’d be different,” and took their order.

“But my people aren’t from Italy,” Mika protested after the man left.

“Never said they were,” the Kid took a slow sip of coffee. “I only said ‘what if’.”

He watched her down her pie and coffee. She ate with gusto, being quite hungry.

“Mika,” he said, eventually. “That’s a Sioux name.”

It meant “intelligent raccoon” and looking at the shadow cast by her bangs falling across her eyes the Yegua Kid could see a resemblance.

“Is it?” the girl inquired innocently. “It could be from my mother. I never knew her. My father was a Pawnee, I think.”

“A Pawnee?”

“He always let me sit on his lap. Anyway that would explain a lot. We lived in a cabin deep in the woods. One night, on the eve of my 18th birthday, a party of Sioux showed up and took me away. I was placed in a teepee where the women undressed me. Then I was sent out to stand before the tribe. I was nervous at first, not because of my nakedness, but because many of the young braves stared at me as though they wanted to eat me. I mean, can you imagine anyone wanting to eat me?”

The Yegua Kid choked on his coffee, sending a spray of liquid across the room.

“Are you all right?” Mika pounded his back. “Did I say something wrong?”

“No, no. I think there was a hair in my cup. Go on.”

“All was silent at first until suddenly the medicine man babbled a manic laugh; actually it was more like a giggle, “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Waipaut,” and the Tom Toms beat an accelerated marching cadence. Things went crazy after that. When I got back home I asked my father what ‘Waipaut’ meant. He told me it was a spirit of ill omen uttered when bad things happen. That’s all he would say, nothing more, but from that day on he had a sad look in his eyes whenever he regarded me.”

The Yegua Kid was no stranger to weirdness, but even he considered her story odd.

“Aren’t you eating? You haven’t touched your pie.”

“Naw.” The Kid shoved his plate in her direction. “Then what happened?”

“My father died soon after and I was taken in by a mission where I learned to read and write. Sometime later the blackouts started.”

“Blackouts?”

“It wasn’t until the Turm’s came around that they began.”

“Ah,” the Yegua Kid nodded understandingly. It was a story known to all. Oil was discovered on the Indian land and Fuller Turm, a carpetbagger of long standing, along with his three sons, jokingly known as Long, Mid, and Short, showed up with a forged deed claiming ownership of the property. Everyone knew it was a steamy pony loaf, but Full Turm was well-connected, and the higher-ups looked away as the Turm Oil Company took control of the assets. Not only was Full Turm a powerful man, he was a bigot as well, and soon all the Oklahoma Sioux were driven off.

“The Oklahoma Sioux,” the Kid repeated.

“They tried,” Mika replied, “only no judge would hear the case.” She chewed her pie silently, then continued. “Shortly after this, the Sioux party came for me again. By now I was 21 and the fullness of womanhood was upon me. The ceremony was much like the first. I was again taken to a teepee, stripped of my clothing, and presented to the tribal council. Imagine me, naked and in the prime of womanhood…”

The Yegua Kid sent another spray of coffee across the room.

“Another hair?” she asked.

“No, no,” he gasped. “Go on.”

“I was led on a long march to the shore of a distant ocean and there the medicine man again broke into a cackling giggle before yelling ‘Waipaut.’ After which he instructed me to seek employment with the Turm family. This I did, finding work with the youngest son, Samuel, otherwise called Short Turm. It was his wife who hired me in her husband’s absence. When Short Turm returned from business, he grew angry and dismissed me on the spot, saying if it were up to him he would sooner wipe out all Indian people before seeing them in a white man’s house. I recall little after that, only a daze befell me as I repeated the words, ‘Wipe out,’ and a short time later Samuel Turm was found dead, his throat covered with small finely-spaced scratches and teeth marks.

“I was questioned as to a motive for revenge but one could easily see the marks were too small even for a person of my size to inflict and I was let go.

“I sought to go away but again the voice of the shaman spoke to me saying find work with the second son. I did and things went as before. This time the coroner ruled Mid Turm’s death accidental, saying his horse must have startled and dragged him through a patch of thorny brambles.

“Then a third time the shaman’s voice spoke and I went to the eldest son, Long Turm.”

“Same thing?” the Kid put in.

Mika nodded. “People said it was the hand of justice catching up with the Turms for cheating the Sioux out of their land.”

“Could be,” the Kid agreed. “The river flows as it will.” Nor was the world any the worse for its loss. “And now you’re seeking employment with the elder Turm?”

“The shaman speaks and I obey.”

It was here that their conversation was cut short by the arrival of the stagecoach from the interior. Mika rose in excitement and went out to meet it.

“Well,” the Yegua Kid told her, “good luck.”

But good luck was not to be had as the comely Indian lass presented herself to the portly man climbing down from the coach.

“You?” The elder Turm looked down at her in shock. “But I thought… No, no. This will never do. Surely you can’t expect me to hire a redskin to work in my office. Why it’s unheard of.”

Mika’s gaze faltered. “But, sir, I’m qualified. I studied and trained. I’ve gone out of my way to be presentable.”

Turm laughed. “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Oh, but come, little maiden, why pout? After all, you are a comely lass and my house has many rooms. I’m sure I could find a suitable position for you…if you are willing to accept it.” Then the elder Turm walked up the street, leaving it to her to follow.

The Yegua Kid, witness to this, laid a hand on her shoulder. “You don’t have to do this,” he told her. “There are other ways.”

“No,” Mika shook her head, a brooding, trance-like look possessing her features. “It is reality. As the man said, ‘why pout’. Perhaps this way I can do something to aide my people.”

Without another word, she took off in pursuit of the elder Turm and his offer.

The Yegua Kid watched her go. He felt sad, but he was neither a lawman nor a vigilante, and the choice was hers to make.

It was scant moments later after the two disappeared around a dark corner that a horrifying scream arose, a startled shout of terror abruptly cut short. Along with the other townspeople, the Yegua Kid rushed from the stage depot in the direction of the alleyway from which the scream originated.

There lying on his back in a pool of blood lay Fuller Turm, his throat cut and life pouring out of it. What made it all the more horrifying was the sight of a large raccoon perched atop the body, standing upright on its hind legs with its front paws held outward from its sides as though balancing itself on a turbulent surface. As the Yegua Kid looked at the raccoon, their eyes met and he saw a deep intelligence there that chilled his bones.

The last of the Turm family had been wiped out, and the Kid felt certain, whatever the fate of Mika or the rest of the Oklahoma Sioux, their lives would be better with that bit of turmoil gone from the picture.

 

 

 

17123

 

 

James Hold

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Wipe Out

The Yegua Kid roams the Texas southwest observing many things as he goes along. Like the lazy river for which he is named, he keeps to himself and lets life unfold as it will.

  • ISBN: 9781370748723
  • Author: James Hold
  • Published: 2017-05-04 07:35:08
  • Words: 1962
Wipe Out Wipe Out