in rural Paris, Iowa, and Wordpress

Historical Flash Fiction


He winced as he repositioned himself in the driver’s seat. With effort he was able to extend his troublesome left leg more fully. Trillo in the passenger seat beside him chuckled for no apparent reason.

“What amuses you, Miguel?” he asked in a voice of irritation.

“I was thinking of you in front of those reporters, general. With those asses Martínez and Escobar on either side of you. When you said that the war is over . . . when you said that now honest men and bandits can walk together, those two idiots puffed up, certain that they were the honest men of whom you spoke.”

(The Dodge Brothers Type 22 in Chihuahua Today)

He, too, chuckled now. He took pleasure in driving. The Dodge swayed and jerked, plowing on through the dust that carpeted the rutted road. Two silent ones bouncing back and forth in the rear seat held Winchester Model 94’s upright between their legs with the butts on the floor. Two of his few surviving Golden Ones, who never heard that which was not intended for their hearing.

He drove on in silence, his brow furrowing, his eyes becoming black, opaque. He pushed is wide brimmed fedora back and brought his hand down across his face.

“Tell me this, Trillo. Why do I notice Lucita looking often at that effeminate Tadeo in the way she does? Never has she looked at another man in this way. Never have any of my women looked at another man in this way.”

“General, I must tell you again, with all respect, that this is not happening. I see nothing of this that you describe.”

“We are alive because we are alert, my friend. You know that I have never struck a woman. It is not the woman in these matters. It is the man who lacks respect. God requires an instrument to punish such a man.”

“But general, Tadito has risked death for you. He has all of respect for you. This thing that you think is happening is not. I would gamble my own life on the truth of this.”

As he drove into the pueblo of Parral and they passed a candy stand, the vendor shouted, “Viva Villa!”

Immersed in the mystery that troubled his mind, he absentmindedly lifted his left hand from the wheel, the back of his hand to the vendor in the ageless Latin gesture of acknowledgment. He did not notice. Neither did Colonel Trillo nor either of the two Dorados in the back seat. The candy vendor had turned before his cry of salute as if addressing it to a waiting crowd down the street in the little town. He turned the car left onto the street that led to the road out of town and on to his hacienda.

The Dodge came abreast of an adobe house not ten meters away on the left with sacks of grain stacked beside the front door. Concussion rocked the car. The first round to find him, a 30 caliber, pierced the driver’s door, struck the humerus in his arm, and then caromed into his hip–spent. The second, a hollow point that came before the first had settled in his hip, entered his skull above the left eye, and exploded within his brain.

Townes Van Zandt

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