Monday, October 3, 2016

billy blood, part 1

by timothy t jones

illustrations by pete palomine

part one of two

posted in a different format in all humans are the same on may 17, 2009

the aztec night was falling fast
when through a fellaheen village passed
twelve riders from across the border
in perfect military order

the lieutenants had two famous names
they were frank and jesse james
the captain was more famous still
none other than the dread quantrill

the faces of the other nine
are not so firmly etched in time
but as they rode to meet their fate
each rebel soldier pulled his weight

the village had but buildings three
a jail, a church, a monastery
a single tree with blood red berries
stood beyond the cemetary

and from the berry tree, swinging loose
a carefully knotted hangman's noose
caught quantrill's eye and then frank james'
in the sudden sunset's final flames

the other ten seemed unaware
they filed into the village square
the square was empty - dusty - still
"another ghost town" cried quantrill

frank james frowned and jesse scowled
far off, a lone coyote howled
the black chacmoolian hills looked down
upon the strangely silent town

dan willis was a rider bold
a brash newcomer to the fold
frank and jesse despised his sass
but quantrill loved the youngster's brass

now dan jumped off his horse's back
and taking tobacco from his pack
he rolled one easy as you please
seemed quite prepared to take his ease

he kicked a stone across the ground
"i think i'll take a look around"
he shouted - but no answering sound
echoed his challenge - quantrill frowned

professor porter shifted his weight
upon his horse - "i'd hesitate
to jump to conclusions," he shivered
his red nose twitched and his gray beard quivered

"look ye boys!" cried frenchy le rouge
his finger pointed and his eyes grew huge
upon the coal black mountainside
a light had flashed - and suddenly died

"where in tarnation are the peasants?"
cried long and lanky henry pheasant
"where's the chief and where's the priest
so quick to get their palms well greased?"

quantrill's face grew fiery red
"shut the flaps on your empty heads
we didn't come here to take a census
the devil that cursed it never meant us!"

"why speak of the devil," cried jack mule
"never mention him, that's my rule
he may be listening, he may be not
but if you rile him, he'll make it hot"

and with those words of wisdom true
he stared at quantrill with eyes of blue
who choked and sputtered with exasperation
"you're the biggest fool in the whole damn nation"

"what nation might that be?" quoth jack
"we've been to every nation and back
seen red and white and black men's ways
enough to last us all our days"

quantrill shrugged and turned aside
his own council he would bide
frank and jesse had drifted apart
and were talking, heart to heart

'there's folks round here." said frank real slow
"there ain't no ghosts, that much i know
and where's there's folks there must be food
this trickery puts me in bitter mood"

"i think these fools are spooked," said jess
"about to cry for mama, i'd guess
they surely are a sorry crew
whatever made us think they'd do?"

part 2

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