"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

About to comment here for the very first time?
Check Where'd my Comment go?!!! to avoid losing it.

Friday, January 03, 2020


I get LOTS of comments from SPAMBOTS;  MOST of them for whatever post is at the TOP.  So, THIS post is a barrier, set to allow NO Comments to it.  Whenever I publish a NEW post, I edit the publication date and time of THIS one, to keep IT at the TOP.  SO far, it has proven to be VERY EFFECTIVE.  ;-)


Why SHOULD you?

... a LIKELY query to my requests for LARGE Donations to KEEP myself ALIVE until the Houston Veteran's Hospital Social Workers can help me to find a more AFFORDABLE place for me to LIVE!!!

Problem is repeated requests for such help have resulted in NO ONE trying to reach me.

I fear they consider me literally DOOMED, and there is NOTHING they can do to SAVE me! :(

BUT, I really DON'T wanna DIE, and HOPE you will Donate anyway, whether you think I DESERVE it or not (knowing FULL WELL that SOME of you have gone WAY beyond the call of duty in THAT regard)!


Saturday, December 21, 2019


Emergency room trip!  SOMETIMES, LIFE can SUCK!!!

For several days over the weekend, my visits to the bathroom (for # 1) grew VERY frequent. Monday the 16th, the urination was burning and I felt weak and feverish, so I went.  By SOME miracle, I made it there WITHOUT wetting myself.  Tests disclosed a urinary tract infection, blood in the urine, and I was told that some antibiotics would be mailed to me, which I would take for ten to fifteen days, after which I'd need to return for more tests.

I phoned the VA Hospital the next morning, learned they HADN'T been mailed yet, and arranged for them to be held at the VA Pharmacy, where I would pick them up the next day, Wednesday the 18th (it can sometimes take a WEEK for the Mail to get them to me, and I wanted to start the antibiotics as soon as possible.  

I DID, and am ON them now.

To be able to MAKE that trip WITHOUT a minor catastrophe, I got a ride to Walgreens and spent a fair chunk of a donation on ... DIAPERS (Depend Fit-Flex)!!!  AGGGGGHHH!!!  I'm not READY for THIS!!! 

I could Really, REALLY USE another DONATION; it's liable to be a long and painful couple of weeks.

GOD, how EMBARRASSING. Don't expect to see THIS on my blog! :(

THAT line above is how I ended the email I sent to friends.  Obviously I am DESPERATE enough to have changed my mind.

I'll almost Certainly have emergency taxi trips and purchases to make, for which I have almost NO money.  For God's sake, PLEASE!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

NEW variant of Nigerian email scam?

Got THIS in an email of 16 DEC 2019 (sent to 'undisclosed-recipients') ...
Hello how are you,I contacted you for the first time but did not receive your response.I will appreciate you to contact me again hence I tell you the content of my mail.Thanks J****.

Replied that day with ...

... and got back ...
Hello Paul,

I am looking for the possible beneficiary to the deposited funds of my deceased client Mr A******** Gordon died with his family; I decided to contact you hence I know that  you bear the same surname with him.

I seek your consent and assistance in repatriating money left behind by him before it gets confiscated or declared serviceable by the Bank.The deposit is valued Four Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars only and it is lodged with Bank.

The Bank has issued me an ultimatum to present the next-of-kin of the deceased to claim the funds or have the account declared serviceable.

I hereby seek your consent to present you to the Bank as next-of-kin of the deceased, so that the proceeds of this account valued of the said fund can be transferred to you.I have necessary legal information which in legal terms are supposed to be known by me and this will I relate to you to support the claim from the Bank.

All I require is your honest co-operations to enable us see the transaction through. I guarantee that the transaction will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. I will appreciate you to contact me again for more detail and to your better understanding to the claim process.

Thanks, J**** M****. 

An attempt to reply to that last message, with the full content, got a "Mail server error" message from MY email server, which probably RECOGNIZED it for the Spam/Scam that it almost CERTAINLY had NUMEROUS reports on.

By DELETING that content, I was able to reply ...

Gordon was my MIDDLE name, until I had it legally changed (a LONG time ago).

I am TOTALLY CONFIDENT that I am NOT who you seek.

Best of luck with your quest!  :-)

Any SNARKINESS you may have suspected is correct, but DAMN;  how HANDY Four Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars could have been!  

("What would you DO with a MILLION Dollars?"  "Put it on my bills -- as far as it would go!" ~Amos and Andy Radio Show)

Sigh ... :(


Friday, December 06, 2019

47 years ago - Apollos 16 and 17 ...

Originally written as TWO posts, in April 2010 - NOW combined into ONE!

THAT'S how I posted this on 06 DEC 2019, and so noted in the emails announcing it  ... the ENTIRE contents of BOTH posts, comments and all,  making THIS post SUPER long.

TODAY (Wednesday, 11 DEC 2019) I'm replacing that with the following LINKS to both of them, HOPING you have enough curiosity to give them a look. 

Adventure of a Lifetime


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Options ...

I'm gonna try sending a message to the VA Hospital to see if I can  get an appointment with Social Workers there, to see if they can find SOMETHING that I am CAPABLE of doing to earn extra money to SURVIVE on. 

I'd LOVE for them to check out this blog and see if it shows writing skills that would be EMPLOYABLE.  Have I gone through it to weed out anything that might set off all sorts of alarms with them?  Of COURSE I have;  to claim otherwise would be an insult to their intelligence.

 THIS stuff ALWAYS takes TIME (which I'm rapidly running OUT of), ANY help you can provide (via the PayPal "Donate" button) ...

... will be APPRECIATED beyond words.

THANK you;  and BLESS you!


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

An Open Letter to Creditors and Collectors ...

I am 77, and my vision and physical condition make me damned near UNEMPLOYABLE.  Other than a few donations from friends, who have literally KEPT ME ALIVE, my SOLE income is from Social Security.  

My assets amount to an apartment full of junk (SOME of which no longer even WORKS, but is difficult for me to take downstairs to the dumpster in my condition) that is WORTHLESS to anyone who would choose to SEIZE it ... and a 19 yr old used car that is UNDRIVEABLE and would take several thousand dollars to fix (I'd HOPED that the VA could fix my eyes well enough for me to be able to WORK again and start putting my LIFE back together;  but THAT was NOT TO BE).

If you choose to haul me into court, there is NOTHING in that process that will magically conjure up money THAT DOES NOT EXIST.

I am ALREADY being sued by ANOTHER collector, for a much smaller amount that is EQUALLY IMPOSSIBLE for me to pay. That process might well succeed in KILLING me via stroke or heart failure, but it won't PROFIT them in the least.

When things started GOING TO HELL two years ago (eye problems I thought were cataracts (but included permanent optic nerve damage from glaucoma) costing me the part-time grocery cashier income supplementing my Social Security) I stopped using my credit cards, DESTROYED them, and STOPPED PAYING ON THEM (as I simply COULDN'T).

For a LOOOONG time, I received emails and voicemails about this, from the creditors, and THEN from various collectors, but THAT was ALL.

I honestly DOUBTED they would REALLY do ANYTHING else;  I may have LOTS of various opinions about creditors and collectors, but STUPID ain't one of them.

So, before hauling me into court, I hereby URGE you to INVESTIGATE the Hell out of me.  If those investigators are worth even a fraction of what you'll pay them, they'll advise AGAINST pouring time and money into THAT rathole.  I have absolutely NOTHING that is WORTH A DAMN to you;  and THEY will CONFIRM that!!!


Paul Gordon
3433 West Dallas St, Apt 1102, Houston, Texas 77019
email: gordonp@airmail.net


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"... or something. :-)"

- Memories of Michigan - Spring of  '84.

In 1984, I left Houston to join an Air Force buddy, Claude W****, to manage the Data Processing unit of his Seismic Exploration Company in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

I arrived on March 23rd (THREE days into Spring) ... STILL snow and ice all over the place.  

A beautiful blonde Data Entry lady, Jane R**********, took one look at the Bomber Jacket I had for Winter wear ...

... and just laughed, "PAUL!!! YOU'RE gonna DIE!!! :-)".  By the time Winter returned, I WAS much better prepared.

When I arrived, the bookkeeper, Ceile S*******, introduced me, "This is Paul Gordon - our new Data Processing Manager ... or something."  

That was not a put down;  it was just the way she talked.  BUT, I've often regretted NOT having that "or something" on my business cards;  it was such a PERFECT description of some of the positions I've held!  :-)


Saturday, November 09, 2019

To ALL Veterans ... with LOVE ;-)

 Found THIS on facebook some time ago. ...

Paul Gordon - Ex United States  AIR FORCE.  ;-)

NOTE: I was BORN Paul Gordon Binkley (Legally changing it to Paul Gordon on 26 OCT 1966) and THAT is how I was known to buddies in the USAF ...

(Originally posted late November 2018;
 and reposted 2254 CDT 04 MAY 2019)


Tuesday, August 06, 2019

.44 Special ...

06 AUG 2019 UPDATE - After its seizure (noted in I'm sorry. We're closing now) - GOT it BACK!!!

In October of 2000, fearing a possible Al Gore victory over George W. Bush (Gore being a gun-control fanatic), and preferring something without a paper trail associated with it, I acquired THIS ...

That is an old model Charter Arms Bulldog 5-shot revolver, with a 3" barrel, in .44 S&W Special caliber.  

That target shows the first five rounds I put through it, at ten yards, firing double-action (a misnomer actually, but it's commonly used to describe firing a revolver without cocking it first; just using a long pull of the trigger*).

That flyer (the one furthest from the rest of the group) was the fifth one. With a .44 Special in such a light gun, the recoil is a very sharp slap that will sting the palm of your hand; not a fun gun to shoot. But it satisfied me that it should certainly get the job done.

As for my ammunition of choice, I favor ...
from smith-wessonforum.com

... because it's reliable, accurate, and falls into the "will get the job done" category. 

And before anyone warns me that "lots of indoor ranges ban the use of Blazer ammunition as unsafe, blows up guns (often showing spectacular pictures of blown-up revolvers)", well know this ...

A lot of police departments throughout the country use this ammunition, for budgetary reasons.  While the quality of their rangemasters may vary quite a bit, I suspect that most of those departments are very knowledgeable on lawsuits. That they keep using it is to me a pretty good sign.

I think that what indoor shooting ranges really hate about Blazer is that they sweep up the fired cartridge cases and reload them. The Blazer rounds use aluminum cases, which don't re-size as well as the brass used by most other manufacturers. They also use Berdan primers (needing a special two-pronged decapping tool) instead of the more commonly used (over here) Boxer primer that can use a single pin though a center hole for removing the old primer.

All that trouble probably keeps them from making a profit on reloading the Blazer cartridges.

I've never encountered an outdoor shooting range that had any problem with shooters using the Blazer ammunition. They probably don't collect and reload the cases because it may be more trouble than it's worth to separate and clean them from the dirt, rocks and other debris on the ground there.)

(* - Ok, then. What does "double-action" really mean? It means there are two ways to fire the weapon.

One: Cock the hammer first, allowing you to fire it with a light pull of the trigger, usually more accurate.

Two: Use a long (usually heavy and rough, although it varies greatly among different weapons) pull of the trigger, to raise the hammer and then release it in one motion. This is fastest, but not always very accurate. Mileage varies greatly among different weapons. Some Smith & Wesson models have very good and smooth trigger pulls when used this way, as does that Charter Arms Bulldog of mine.

So, one of the greatest misnomers is a weapon described as DAO (Double Action Only) when it in fact has just a single mode of being fired: by pulling the trigger to cock and release the hammer.

Ain't semantics wonderful? :-)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

"... Time to die."

On January 23, 1944 in Breukelen, Utrecht, Netherlands, was born Rutger Hauer: an amazing actor, once referred to as "a Dutch Paul Newman"

His IMDb page (linked to his name above) shows 173 credits, but it was Paul Verhoeven's Soldier of Orange (1977), about the Dutch Resistance in WW2, that introduced him to me ... 

In The Hitcher (1986) he was a chilling psychopath (more of an elemental force than a man), who seemed to have stepped right out of a Stephen King novel.  HIGHLY Recommended ...

But MY favorite of his many roles is the replicant Roy Batty, in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) ...

Although an adversary (NOT a villain), he is nothing less than the heart and soul of this movie about a soulless future; facing his (ENGINEERED) demise thusly ...

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.  Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.  I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.  All those moments will be lost in time ... like tears in rain ... Time to die."

27 JUL 2019 - Piece of trivia found on IMDb ...
Rutger Hauer came up with many inventive ideas for his characterization, like the moment where he grabs and fondles a dove.  He also improvised the now-iconic line "All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain".  He later chose "All those moments" as the title of his autobiography.

He left us on July 19, 2019 (age 75) in Beetsterzwaag, Netherlands.

RIP Sir; you WILL be missed! :(


Sunday, July 14, 2019

I'm sorry. We're closing now.

Somehow, I had naively assumed that the HEADQUARTERS of the POLICE DEPARTMENT of the FOURTH LARGEST CITY IN THE UNITED STATES would be a 24/7 operation.

This earlier post (Incident # *******-19) ...
Houston Police Department - Central Station 
61 Riesner, Houston, Texas 77002
Attn: Officer *. ********** - Re: Incident # *******-19 

Dear Sir:

On Wednesday, 19 JUN 2019, because of fear of what a pending lawsuit could do to me, I asked my Primary Care Physician at the Michael DeBakey Veterans Hospital if they would STILL provide funeral assistance to an Honorably Discharged Veteran IF circumstances (that lawsuit) forced him to take his own life.

THIS resulted in his calling the Mental Health people, and YOU coming to my apartment to check on me and take me to the VA Emergency Room, where I spent the rest of the evening being physically checked, and then interviewed by a psychiatrist, until they were satisfied that I was NOT a danger to myself and RELEASED ME, with a two-week supply of prescription anti-depressants (Escitalopram Oxalate).

You seized my pistol, "for safekeeping", and left me a receipt.

I would like to know how I go about retrieving it.  I gather (from the receipt) that you would have to sign off on it.  If you are worried about ME, let me present these arguments ...

1) Come October, I'll have possessed that weapon for 19 YEARS.

2) It has ALWAYS been CLOSE and AT HAND.

3) Even SO, HERE I AM.

I have lived with weapons at hand (usually pistols; often more than one) for over half a century.  The 19 years I mentioned above is just for THIS one.  In all that time, I've had MANY ups and downs, emotionally;  yet STILL I remain.

Don't forget; AFTER after the VA people CHECKED me and their psychiatrist INTERVIEWED me, I was RELEASED!  If they thought I was a DANGER to myself, not only were they PERFECTLY CAPABLE of KEEPING me there overnight (or longer) for observation; they would have been LEGALLY OBLIGATED to DO so.  That they DIDN'T suggests they considered me a bit "down" at the time, but NOT serious enough to be KEPT there.

I Honest to God believe myself in GREATER DANGER from just WALKING (I've had SEVERAL falls;  some resulting in broken bones, and ONCE almost being run over in traffic) than I've EVER been from that pistol.

Paul Gordon

3433 West Dallas St, Apt 1102, Houston, Texas 77019

email: gordonp@airmail.net    phone: 713-***-****



... is a longer, more explanatory version (emphasizing my RELEASE) of a letter that I conjured up for the Officer who TOOK my pistol, and was mailed to him (via USPS Certified Mail) on Friday, 21 JUN 2019.

It SHOULD have been delivered Monday, 24 JUN 2019.

NEVER happened; an investigation by the USPS resulted in being told by them that it was irretrievably LOST.

I printed out another copy and took a taxi to the 1200 Travis Street  Headquarters building (having been told that the 61 Riesner location has NOT been PUBLICLY accessible since Hurricane Harvey in 2017) on Saturday, 13 JUL  2019, only to discover it CLOSED. One lonely uniformed Officer (probably just there to WATCH the place) informed me, "This is the WEEKEND; NOBODY'S here!"

He was kind enough to accept the letter, promising to get it to the Mail Department, who would see that the Officer the letter is meant for WOULD get it (probably sometime in the middle of the week.


NOT what I expected.

I couldn't help flashing back to Nicholas Meyer's WONDERFUL Time After Time (1979)  in which a young H. G. Wells (BRILLIANTLY played by Malcolm McDowell, in a role almost a polar opposite from the ultra violent Alex of "A Clockwork Orange") who has actually BUILT a time machine and shows it to guests, among whom is a doctor who turns out to be Jack the Ripper and uses the machine to escape to the future. When the machine automatically returns (as it was meant to do) Wells goes in pursuit, and the movie makes a few observations on MODERN life. including ...

MY reaction to the Police Headquarters being CLOSED.


Sunday, May 05, 2019

Shaking our tree.

- 04 Oct 1957 - SPUTNIK!!!

This little dingbat scared the Hell out of many of us then ...
from citizenship typepad.com

Nothing but a polished metal sphere of 585 mm (23 inches) diameter with a mass of 83.6 kilograms (184 lb) and carrying only a radio transmitter, it definitely got our attention.

THEY got there FIRST! Oh, Man!!!

You see, those were the thrilling days of yesteryear when the Soviet Union was ruled by Nikita "We will bury you" Khrushchev who, just the year before, had sent columns of tanks into Hungary to crush a rebellion there (just his way of stating "THAT is a NO-NO!").

The days of "Duck and cover" drills in public schools (not at all insane; if a nuke hit several miles away instead of on top of you, that could make the difference between surviving versus being shredded by glass blown in by the shock wave if all you did was just stand there and gawk at the explosion. Nukes are powerful, but not infinitely powerful. They can be survived, and have been. See reports of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for hard evidence. (Although, in an essay on civil defense, Robert A. Heinlein advocated situational awareness (paying attention to what's going on in the world) and summed up surviving the bomb in seven words: "Don't BE there, when it goes off!" ))

That innocent looking thing was placed into orbit by ...
from on6wj-sputnik.blogspot.com

... the R-7 launcher (for a long time referred to as T-3), which evolved from an ICBM whose primary purpose was to transport a thermonuclear bomb from Point A (somewhere in the Soviet Union) to Point B (somewhere in the USA).

The local newspapers ...
San Antonio Light, 05 Oct 1957 - from newspaperarchive.com

... published times of when to see it in the morning or evening, when it would be brightly lit by the sun.

To read or hear about the Soviets (listening to the radio when they were stomping on the rebellion in Hungary was heart-wrenching) while they were on the other side of the world was bad enough, but a bit abstract.

To walk out into your back yard and actually see this bright little silver dot in the sky slowly moving overhead, and realizing there they are;  well, that's a whole 'nother story.

(Originally published  1239 CST,  03 OCT 2012)

Sunday, April 21, 2019


noun - the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Through all my careers, I have become self-taught on slide-rule, logarithms, computers and programming.

I taught myself how to use the slide-rule while still in the USAF. It wasn't part of my training; someone had discarded one and I salvaged it, just becoming fascinated with what I could do with it.

Same with logarithms; after I became a civilian, with none of my Air Force skills all that useful, the unemployment agency sent me to a local junior college for a drafting course. A book we were given on mathematics for engineering had a chapter on logarithms at the back. Once again, it was NOT part of the curriculum, but I just thought it so cool to be able to perform fractional roots and powers with them.

The early part of my engineering career was in the slide-rule days. Give one of those to modern day engineers, and I'll bet you some would be trying to figure out, "How do you turn it on?"  ("With a really interesting problem.", I would respond. :-)

That particular career (before I moved into IT) was from 1964 to 1984, and during nearly half of it, the most modern tool we had was an electric adding machine.  I truly kid you not; we had one engineer who used an abacus (and was damned good with it).

It was the late 1960's before someone tried to interest us in a four-function electronic calculator, about the size and shape of an IBM Selectric typewriter, using a bank of tubes showing 7-segment numbers for the display and costing about $600.00 (at a time when that was one third the price of a brand-new Volkswagen Beetle).  We passed on the deal, at that time. 

A couple of years later, I bought a Miida calculator (still only four-function) for about $170.00 from Sears, making me the first in the company to have one.  It got popular very quickly.  I even worked out a three-step method of averaging to get very precise square roots from it (we used those a lot in electrical calculations) and felt pretty damned good about that (although slide-rule accuracy was actually more than sufficient for our purposes -- it was an ego thing for me, I suppose).

Of course, another year or so, and the same amount of money bought an 80-function calculator.  Since then, prices and sizes of those things have dropped so much that the only thing keeping them from becoming Cracker Jack prizes is fear of lawsuits if a kid swallows one.

Twice in 1972 and once in 1975 I had made trips to Titusville, Florida (12 miles due West of Cape Canaveral's launch pads on Merritt Island), to watch the launchings of Apollo 16, Apollo 17, and the Apollo-Soyuz missions.  (Be patient;  there IS a reason for THIS item in THIS post.)

I left the Air Force early, but honorably, and had no contact with any of my former buddies there until 1975 (I think) when, in a Sears department store here in Houston, a man stepping off the escalator behind me asked, "Excuse me.  Aren't you Paul Binkley?"

I was trying to remember if he was an architect client of ours when it hit me that he had addressed me by a last name I hadn't used in nine years (another story, probably never to be revealed). He was one of the bunch I had been with, and was now living just north of Houston and working as an exploration geophysicist for Shell Oil Company.

I got back together with him and his family. That was a bit of a miracle. Have you ever run into someone that you knew from long ago, only to find so much has changed that you no longer have anything in common anymore?

A couple of years later he and his family moved up to Mt. Pleasant, in central Michigan, where he joined a seismic exploration company there. Another couple of years and he's broken off from them and started his own company (also seismic exploration).

In the meantime, several things had been going on. I'd been an electrical draftsman, evolved into an electrical designer (almost an engineer, but sans license and seal;  my work required approval from a Registered Engineer) and had been doing the same thing for almost two decades.

Into our engineering world arrived a micro-computer, in 1981, primarily for use by our secretary as a word-processor (A lot of her work was typing up engineering specifications, usually from existing boiler-plates;  this made her job enormously easier.) and an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) program in Basic, that never worked properly.

But, it had a professional grade level of Basic included, and I had found me a new toy. Soon I was teaching myself programming on it, and making programs to handle some of the calculations required in my work.

I had made several trips to Michigan, to visit my friend, and we had talked several times about the possibility of me moving up there to join him. After nearly 20 years of drawing circles and home runs, one gets ready for something new. (Any reader who has done electrical drafting, design and/or engineering knows what I'm speaking of.  As for the rest: Nyah, nan nan nan nyah! :-)

In September of 1983, one of the Space Shuttles was scheduled to go up at night. I could afford it, had plenty of vacation time available, and decided, "Let's do it!".

This time, it didn't go so well. When it was time to get rolling, I was asked to not go; our sometimes crazy work schedules had piled up too much (and this wasn't the first time by a long shot. Their recurrences was one of the reasons I had so much vacation time built up; I'd had several vacations aborted this way). So, I didn't go.

Watching the lift-off, on TV at home instead of the Titusville beach, I'd HAD it! I was feeling "G*D D*MM*T! I'm not the only one there!". After the lift-off, I made a long distance call to my friend in Michigan and told him that if he still thought I could do something up there, I was definitely interested.

As I noted above, he had started his own company. He was farming out the data to a data-processing company, was not real impressed with the results, and decided to set up his own data-processing center.

In early 1984, he called back and asked me if I would come up and manage it for him.

And so, because of what amounts to a hissy fit over not being able to go to that night shuttle launch, I was soon on my way to Michigan, a new career, and a whole new future.

Damn little of my life has ever been carefully planned; most of the time I seem to drift up on whatever shoals the current takes me to and I go on from there. The career change noted above is the closest thing to careful planning, and it resulted from an impulse; the only planning involved was that, when I left the engineering company, at least I knew where I was going and what I would be trying to do. Most of my odyssey has been far more random and capricious. I'm seriously considering a post on the utterly random and unpredictable events that have led me to where I am today.

And HERE it IS! :-)


Monday, April 08, 2019

The Ballad Of East And West

I LOVE Kipling's Poems and Prose - THIS one is my FAVORITE :-)

The Ballad Of East And West
    Rudyard Kipling - 1889 - Public Domain

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
   Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
   When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border-side,

   And he has lifted the Colonel's mare that is the Colonel's pride:
He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day,
   And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away.

Then up and spoke the Colonel's son that led a troop of the Guides:
   "Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?"
Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar:
   "If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are.
"At dusk he harries the Abazai -- at dawn he is into Bonair,
   "But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare,
"So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly,
   "By the favour of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai.
"But if he be past the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,
   "For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal's men.
"There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
   "And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen."

The Colonel's son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he,

   With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell and the head of the gallows-tree.
The Colonel's son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat --
   Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat.
He's up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly,
   Till he was aware of his father's mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai,
Till he was aware of his father's mare with Kamal upon her back,
   And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack.
He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide.
   "Ye shoot like a soldier," Kamal said. "Show now if ye can ride."

It's up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dustdevils go,

   The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren doe.
The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above,
   But the red mare played with the snaffle-bars, as a maiden plays with a glove.
There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
   And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick tho' never a man was seen.

They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs drum up the dawn,

   The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn.
The dun he fell at a water-course -- in a woful heap fell he,
   And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the rider free.
He has knocked the pistol out of his hand -- small room was there to strive,
   "'Twas only by favour of mine," quoth he, "ye rode so long alive:
"There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree,
   "But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.
"If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,
   "The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row:
"If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,
   "The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly."

Lightly answered the Colonel's son: "Do good to bird and beast,

   "But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast.
"If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my bones away,
   "Belike the price of a jackal's meal were more than a thief could pay.
"They will feed their horse on the standing crop, their men on the garnered grain,
   "The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain.
"But if thou thinkest the price be fair, -- thy brethren wait to sup,
   "The hound is kin to the jackal-spawn, -- howl, dog, and call them up!
"And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack,
   "Give me my father's mare again, and I'll fight my own way back!"

Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet.

   "No talk shall be of dogs," said he, "when wolf and gray wolf meet.
"May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath;
   "What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?"
Lightly answered the Colonel's son: "I hold by the blood of my clan:
   "Take up the mare for my father's gift -- by God, she has carried a man!"
The red mare ran to the Colonel's son, and nuzzled against his breast;
   "We be two strong men," said Kamal then, "but she loveth the younger best.
"So she shall go with a lifter's dower, my turquoise-studded rein,
   "My broidered saddle and saddle-cloth, and silver stirrups twain."

The Colonel's son a pistol drew and held it muzzle-end,

   "Ye have taken the one from a foe," said he; "will ye take the mate from a friend?"
"A gift for a gift," said Kamal straight; "a limb for the risk of a limb.
   "Thy father has sent his son to me, I'll send my son to him!"
With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest --
   He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest.
"Now here is thy master," Kamal said, "who leads a troop of the Guides,
   "And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides.
"Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed,
   "Thy life is his -- thy fate it is to guard him with thy head.
"So, thou must eat the White Queen's meat, and all her foes are thine,
   "And thou must harry thy father's hold for the peace of the Border-line,
"And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power --
   "Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur."

They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,

   They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt:
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
   On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.

The Colonel's son he rides the mare and Kamal's boy the dun,
   And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one.
And when they drew to the Quarter-Guard, full twenty swords flew clear --
   There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer.
"Ha' done! ha' done!" said the Colonel's son. "Put up the steel at your sides!
"Last night ye had struck at a Border thief -- to-night 'tis a man of the Guides!"

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

   Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
   When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!


Monday, April 01, 2019

MORE from O. Henry ...

I've printed some things written by Kipling and O. Henry, because I LIKE them, and because they're old enough to be Public Domain.  A copyright used to be good for 28 years, and could be renewed ONCE for another 28.  Changes in copyright law, in 1976, 1998, and later, have extended coverage to almost in perpetuity!  Just about ANYTHING up to 1923 is Public Domain now.  AFTERWARDS, it gets VERY sticky! :(

A Double-Dyed Deceiver
 by O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
  (1905 - Now Public Domain)

The trouble began in Laredo. It was the Llano Kid's* fault, for he should have confined his habit of manslaughter to Mexicans. But the Kid was past twenty; and to have only Mexicans to one's credit at twenty is to blush unseen on the Rio Grande border.

It happened in old Justo Valdos's gambling house. There was a poker game at which sat players who were not all friends, as happens often where men ride in from afar to shoot Folly as she gallops. There was a row over so small a matter as a pair of queens; and when the smoke had cleared away it was found that the Kid had committed an indiscretion, and his adversary had been guilty of a blunder. For, the unfortunate combatant, instead of being a Greaser, was a high-blooded youth from the cow ranches, of about the Kid's own age and possessed of friends and champions. His blunder in missing the Kid's right ear only a sixteenth of an inch when he pulled his gun did not lessen the indiscretion of the better marksman.

The Kid, not being equipped with a retinue, nor bountifully supplied with personal admirers and supporters--on account of a rather umbrageous reputation, even for the border--considered it not incompatible with his indispensable gameness to perform that judicious tractional act known as "pulling his freight."

Quickly the avengers gathered and sought him. Three of them overtook him within a rod of the station. The Kid turned and showed his teeth in that brilliant but mirthless smile that usually preceded his deeds of insolence and violence, and his pursuers fell back without making it necessary for him even to reach for his weapon.

But in this affair the Kid had not felt the grim thirst for encounter that usually urged him on to battle. It had been a purely chance row, born of the cards and certain epithets impossible for a gentleman to brook that had passed between the two. The Kid had rather liked the slim, haughty, brown-faced young chap whom his bullet had cut off in the first pride of manhood. And now he wanted no more blood. He wanted to get away and have a good long sleep somewhere in the sun on the mesquite grass with his handkerchief over his face. Even a Mexican might have crossed his path in safety while he was in this mood.

The Kid openly boarded the north-bound passenger train that departed five minutes later. But at Webb, a few miles out, where it was flagged to take on a traveller, he abandoned that manner of escape. There were telegraph stations ahead; and the Kid looked askance at electricity and steam. Saddle and spur were his rocks of safety.

The man whom he had shot was a stranger to him. But the Kid knew that he was of the Coralitos outfit from Hidalgo; and that the punchers from that ranch were more relentless and vengeful than Kentucky feudists when wrong or harm was done to one of them. So, with the wisdom that has characterized many great farmers, the Kid decided to pile up as many leagues as possible of chaparral and pear between himself and the retaliation of the Coralitos bunch.

Near the station was a store; and near the store, scattered among the mesquites and elms, stood the saddled horses of the customers. Most of them waited, half asleep, with sagging limbs and drooping heads. But one, a long-legged roan with a curved neck, snorted and pawed the turf. Him the Kid mounted, gripped with his knees, and slapped gently with the owner's own quirt.

If the slaying of the temerarious card-player had cast a cloud over the Kid's standing as a good and true citizen, this last act of his veiled his figure in the darkest shadows of disrepute. On the Rio Grande border if you take a man's life you sometimes take trash; but if you take his horse, you take a thing the loss of which renders him poor, indeed, and which enriches you not--if you are caught. For the Kid there was no turning back now.

With the springing roan under him he felt little care or uneasiness. After a five-mile gallop he drew it in to the plainsman's jogging trot, and rode northeastward toward the Nueces River bottoms. He knew the country well--its most tortuous and obscure trails through the great wilderness of brush and pear, and its camps and lonesome ranches where one might find safe entertainment. Always he bore to the east; for the Kid had never seen the ocean, and he had a fancy to lay his hand upon the mane of the great Gulf, the gamesome colt of the greater waters.

So after three days he stood on the shore at Corpus Christi, and looked out across the gentle ripples of a quiet sea.

Captain Boone, of the schooner Flyaway, stood near his skiff, which one of his crew was guarding in the surf. When ready to sail he had discovered that one of the necessaries of life, in the parallelogrammatic shape of plug tobacco, had been forgotten. A sailor had been dispatched for the missing cargo. Meanwhile the captain paced the sands, chewing profanely at his pocket store.

A slim, wiry youth in high-heeled boots came down to the water's edge. His face was boyish, but with a premature severity that hinted at a man's experience. His complexion was naturally dark; and the sun and wind of an outdoor life had burned it to a coffee brown. His hair was as black and straight as an Indian's; his face had not yet upturned to the humiliation of a razor; his eyes were a cold and steady blue. He carried his left arm somewhat away from his body, for pearl-handled .45s are frowned upon by town marshals, and are a little bulky when placed in the left armhole of one's vest. He looked beyond Captain Boone at the gulf with the impersonal and expressionless dignity of a Chinese emperor.

"Thinkin' of buyin' that'ar gulf, buddy?" asked the captain, made sarcastic by his narrow escape from a tobaccoless voyage.

"Why, no," said the Kid gently, "I reckon not. I never saw it before. I was just looking at it. Not thinking of selling it, are you?"

"Not this trip," said the captain. "I'll send it to you C.O.D. when I get back to Buenas Tierras. Here comes that capstanfooted lubber with the chewin'. I ought to've weighed anchor an hour ago."

"Is that your ship out there?" asked the Kid.

"Why, yes," answered the captain, "if you want to call a schooner a ship, and I don't mind lyin'. But you better say Miller and Gonzales, owners, and ordinary plain, Billy-be-damned old Samuel K. Boone, skipper."

"Where are you going to?" asked the refugee.

"Buenas Tierras, coast of South America--I forgot what they called the country the last time I was there. Cargo--lumber, corrugated iron, and machetes."

"What kind of a country is it?" asked the Kid--"hot or cold?"

"Warmish, buddy," said the captain. "But a regular Paradise Lost for elegance of scenery and be-yooty of geography. Ye're wakened every morning by the sweet singin' of red birds with seven purple tails, and the sighin' of breezes in the posies and roses. And the inhabitants never work, for they can reach out and pick steamer baskets of the choicest hothouse fruit without gettin' out of bed. And there's no Sunday and no ice and no rent and no troubles and no use and no nothin'. It's a great country for a man to go to sleep with, and wait for somethin' to turn up. The bananys and oranges and hurricanes and pineapples that ye eat comes from there."

"That sounds to me!" said the Kid, at last betraying interest. "What'll the expressage be to take me out there with you?"

"Twenty-four dollars," said Captain Boone; "grub and transportation. Second cabin. I haven't got a first cabin."

"You've got my company," said the Kid, pulling out a buckskin bag.

With three hundred dollars he had gone to Laredo for his regular "blowout." The duel in Valdos's had cut short his season of hilarity, but it had left him with nearly $200 for aid in the flight that it had made necessary.

"All right, buddy," said the captain. "I hope your ma won't blame me for this little childish escapade of yours." He beckoned to one of the boat's crew. "Let Sanchez lift you out to the skiff so you won't get your feet wet."

* * * * *

Thacker, the United States consul at Buenas Tierras, was not yet drunk. It was only eleven o'clock; and he never arrived at his desired state of beatitude--a state wherein he sang ancient maudlin vaudeville songs and pelted his screaming parrot with banana peels--until the middle of the afternoon. So, when he looked up from his hammock at the sound of a slight cough, and saw the Kid standing in the door of the consulate, he was still in a condition to extend the hospitality and courtesy due from the representative of a great nation. "Don't disturb yourself," said the Kid, easily. "I just dropped in. They told me it was customary to light at your camp before starting in to round up the town. I just came in on a ship from Texas."

"Glad to see you, Mr.--" said the consul.

The Kid laughed.

"Sprague Dalton," he said. "It sounds funny to me to hear it. I'm called the Llano Kid in the Rio Grande country."

"I'm Thacker," said the consul. "Take that cane-bottom chair. Now if you've come to invest, you want somebody to advise you. These dingies will cheat you out of the gold in your teeth if you don't understand their ways. Try a cigar?"

"Much obliged," said the Kid, "but if it wasn't for my corn shucks and the little bag in my back pocket I couldn't live a minute." He took out his "makings," and rolled a cigarette.

"They speak Spanish here," said the consul. "You'll need an interpreter. If there's anything I can do, why, I'd be delighted. If you're buying fruit lands or looking for a concession of any sort, you'll want somebody who knows the ropes to look out for you."

"I speak Spanish," said the Kid, "about nine times better than I do English. Everybody speaks it on the range where I come from. And I'm not in the market for anything."

"You speak Spanish?" said Thacker thoughtfully. He regarded the kid absorbedly.

"You look like a Spaniard, too," he continued. "And you're from Texas. And you can't be more than twenty or twenty-one. I wonder if you've got any nerve."

"You got a deal of some kind to put through?" asked the Texan, with unexpected shrewdness.

"Are you open to a proposition?" said Thacker.

"What's the use to deny it?" said the Kid. "I got into a little gun frolic down in Laredo and plugged a white man. There wasn't any Mexican handy. And I come down to your parrot-and-monkey range just for to smell the morning-glories and marigolds. Now, do you sabe?"

Thacker got up and closed the door.

"Let me see your hand," he said.

He took the Kid's left hand, and examined the back of it closely.

"I can do it," he said excitedly. "Your flesh is as hard as wood and as healthy as a baby's. It will heal in a week."

"If it's a fist fight you want to back me for," said the Kid, "don't put your money up yet. Make it gun work, and I'll keep you company. But no barehanded scrapping, like ladies at a tea-party, for me."

"It's easier than that," said Thacker. "Just step here, will you?"

Through the window he pointed to a two-story white-stuccoed house with wide galleries rising amid the deep-green tropical foliage on a wooded hill that sloped gently from the sea.

"In that house," said Thacker, "a fine old Castilian gentleman and his wife are yearning to gather you into their arms and fill your pockets with money. Old Santos Urique lives there. He owns half the gold-mines in the country."

"You haven't been eating loco weed, have you?" asked the Kid.

"Sit down again," said Thacker, "and I'll tell you. Twelve years ago they lost a kid. No, he didn't die--although most of 'em here do from drinking the surface water. He was a wild little devil, even if he wasn't but eight years old. Everybody knows about it. Some Americans who were through here prospecting for gold had letters to Senor Urique, and the boy was a favorite with them. They filled his head with big stories about the States; and about a month after they left, the kid disappeared, too. He was supposed to have stowed himself away among the banana bunches on a fruit steamer, and gone to New Orleans. He was seen once afterward in Texas, it was thought, but they never heard anything more of him. Old Urique has spent thousands of dollars having him looked for. The madam was broken up worst of all. The kid was her life. She wears mourning yet. But they say she believes he'll come back to her some day, and never gives up hope. On the back of the boy's left hand was tattooed a flying eagle carrying a spear in his claws. That's old Urique's coat of arms or something that he inherited in Spain."

The Kid raised his left hand slowly and gazed at it curiously.

"That's it," said Thacker, reaching behind the official desk for his bottle of smuggled brandy. "You're not so slow. I can do it. What was I consul at Sandakan for? I never knew till now. In a week I'll have the eagle bird with the frog-sticker blended in so you'd think you were born with it. I brought a set of the needles and ink just because I was sure you'd drop in some day, Mr. Dalton."

"Oh, hell," said the Kid. "I thought I told you my name!"

"All right, 'Kid,' then. It won't be that long. How does Senorito Urique sound, for a change?"

"I never played son any that I remember of," said the Kid. "If I had any parents to mention they went over the divide about the time I gave my first bleat. What is the plan of your round-up?"

Thacker leaned back against the wall and held his glass up to the light.

"We've come now," said he, "to the question of how far you're willing to go in a little matter of the sort."

"I told you why I came down here," said the Kid simply.

"A good answer," said the consul. "But you won't have to go that far. Here's the scheme. After I get the trademark tattooed on your hand I'll notify old Urique. In the meantime I'll furnish you with all of the family history I can find out, so you can be studying up points to talk about. You've got the looks, you speak the Spanish, you know the facts, you can tell about Texas, you've got the tattoo mark. When I notify them that the rightful heir has returned and is waiting to know whether he will be received and pardoned, what will happen? They'll simply rush down here and fall on your neck, and the curtain goes down for refreshments and a stroll in the lobby."

"I'm waiting," said the Kid. "I haven't had my saddle off in your camp long, pardner, and I never met you before; but if you intend to let it go at a parental blessing, why, I'm mistaken in my man, that's all."

"Thanks," said the consul. "I haven't met anybody in a long time that keeps up with an argument as well as you do. The rest of it is simple. If they take you in only for a while it's long enough. Don't give 'em time to hunt up the strawberry mark on your left shoulder. Old Urique keeps anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 in his house all the time in a little safe that you could open with a shoe buttoner. Get it. My skill as a tattooer is worth half the boddle. We go halves and catch a tramp steamer for Rio Janeiro. Let the United States go to pieces if it can't get along without my services. Que dice, senor?"

"It sounds to me!" said the Kid, nodding his head. "I'm out for the dust."

"All right, then," said Thacker. "You'll have to keep close until we get the bird on you. You can live in the back room here. I do my own cooking, and I'll make you as comfortable as a parsimonious Government will allow me."

Thacker had set the time at a week, but it was two weeks before the design that he patiently tattooed upon the Kid's hand was to his notion. And then Thacker called a muchacho, and dispatched this note to the intended victim:

El Senor Don Santos Urique, La Casa Blanca,

My Dear Sir:

I beg permission to inform you that there is in my house as a temporary guest a young man who arrived in Buenas Tierras from the United States some days ago. Without wishing to excite any hopes that may not be realized, I think there is a possibility of his being your long-absent son. It might be well for you to call and see him. If he is, it is my opinion that his intention was to return to his home, but upon arriving here, his courage failed him from doubts as to how he would be received. Your true servant,

Thompson Thacker.

Half an hour afterward--quick time for Buenas Tierras--Senor Urique's ancient landau drove to the consul's door, with the barefooted coachman beating and shouting at the team of fat, awkward horses.

A tall man with a white moustache alighted, and assisted to the ground a lady who was dressed and veiled in unrelieved black.

The two hastened inside, and were met by Thacker with his best diplomatic bow. By his desk stood a slender young man with clear-cut, sun-browned features and smoothly brushed black hair.

Senora Urique threw back her black veil with a quick gesture. She was past middle age, and her hair was beginning to silver, but her full, proud figure and clear olive skin retained traces of the beauty peculiar to the Basque province. But, once you had seen her eyes, and comprehended the great sadness that was revealed in their deep shadows and hopeless expression, you saw that the woman lived only in some memory.

She bent upon the young man a long look of the most agonized questioning. Then her great black eyes turned, and her gaze rested upon his left hand. And then with a sob, not loud, but seeming to shake the room, she cried "Hijo mio!" and caught the Llano Kid to her heart.

A month afterward the Kid came to the consulate in response to a message sent by Thacker.

He looked the young Spanish caballero. His clothes were imported, and the wiles of the jewellers had not been spent upon him in vain. A more than respectable diamond shone on his finger as he rolled a shuck cigarette.

"What's doing?" asked Thacker.

"Nothing much," said the Kid calmly. "I eat my first iguana steak to-day. They're them big lizards, you sabe? I reckon, though, that frijoles and side bacon would do me about as well. Do you care for iguanas, Thacker?"

"No, nor for some other kinds of reptiles," said Thacker.

It was three in the afternoon, and in another hour he would be in his state of beatitude.

"It's time you were making good, sonny," he went on, with an ugly look on his reddened face. "You're not playing up to me square. You've been the prodigal son for four weeks now, and you could have had veal for every meal on a gold dish if you'd wanted it. Now, Mr. Kid, do you think it's right to leave me out so long on a husk diet? What's the trouble? Don't you get your filial eyes on anything that looks like cash in the Casa Blanca? Don't tell me you don't. Everybody knows where old Urique keeps his stuff. It's U.S. currency, too; he don't accept anything else. What's doing? Don't say 'nothing' this time."

"Why, sure," said the Kid, admiring his diamond, "there's plenty of money up there. I'm no judge of collateral in bunches, but I will undertake for to say that I've seen the rise of $50,000 at a time in that tin grub box that my adopted father calls his safe. And he lets me carry the key sometimes just to show me that he knows I'm the real Francisco that strayed from the herd a long time ago."

"Well, what are you waiting for?" asked Thacker, angrily. "Don't you forget that I can upset your apple-cart any day I want to. If old Urique knew you were an imposter, what sort of things would happen to you? Oh, you don't know this country, Mr. Texas Kid. The laws here have got mustard spread between 'em. These people here'd stretch you out like a frog that had been stepped on, and give you about fifty sticks at every corner of the plaza. And they'd wear every stick out, too. What was left of you they'd feed to alligators."

"I might just as well tell you now, pardner," said the Kid, sliding down low on his steamer chair, "that things are going to stay just as they are. They're about right now."

"What do you mean?" asked Thacker, rattling the bottom of his glass on his desk.

"The scheme's off," said the Kid. "And whenever you have the pleasure of speaking to me address me as Don Francisco Urique. I'll guarantee I'll answer to it. We'll let Colonel Urique keep his money. His little tin safe is as good as the time-locker in the First National Bank of Laredo as far as you and me are concerned."

"You're going to throw me down, then, are you?" said the consul.

"Sure," said the Kid cheerfully. "Throw you down. That's it. And now I'll tell you why. The first night I was up at the colonel's house they introduced me to a bedroom. No blankets on the floor--a real room, with a bed and things in it. And before I was asleep, in comes this artificial mother and tucks in the covers. 'Panchito,' she says, 'my little lost one, God has brought you back to me. I bless His name forever.' It was that, or some truck like that, she said. And down comes a drop or two of rain and hits me on the nose. And all that stuck by me, Mr. Thacker. And it's been that way ever since. And it's got to stay that way. Don't you think that it's for what's in it for me, either, that I say so. If you have any such ideas, keep 'em to yourself. I haven't had much truck with women in my life, and no mothers to speak of, but here's a lady that we've got to keep fooled. Once she stood it; twice she won't. I'm a low-down wolf, and the devil may have sent me on this trail instead of God, but I'll travel it to the end. And now, don't forget that I'm Don Francisco Urique whenever you happen to mention my name."

"I'll expose you to-day, you--you double-dyed traitor," stammered Thacker.

The Kid arose and, without violence, took Thacker by the throat with a hand of steel, and shoved him slowly into a corner. Then he drew from under his left arm his pearl-handled .45 and poked the cold muzzle of it against the consul's mouth.

"I told you why I come here," he said, with his old freezing smile. "If I leave here, you'll be the reason. Never forget it, pardner. Now, what is my name?"

"Er--Don Francisco Urique," gasped Thacker.

From outside came a sound of wheels, and the shouting of some one, and the sharp thwacks of a wooden whipstock upon the backs of fat horses.

The Kid put up his gun, and walked toward the door. But he turned again and came back to the trembling Thacker, and held up his left hand with its back toward the consul.

"There's one more reason," he said slowly, "why things have got to stand as they are. The fellow I killed in Laredo had one of them same pictures on his left hand."

Outside, the ancient landau of Don Santos Urique rattled to the door. The coachman ceased his bellowing. Senora Urique, in a voluminous gay gown of white lace and flying ribbons, leaned forward with a happy look in her great soft eyes.

"Are you within, dear son?" she called, in the rippling Castilian.

"Madre mia, yo vengo [mother, I come]," answered the young Don Francisco Urique.

* = Llano (Spanish for "plain"):  a small town in Texas, a bit over 100 miles north of San Antonio. The "Sundance Kid" got his nickname from being involved in some incident in Sundance, Wyoming. Our protagonist likely made an impression in Llano.
(Normally that word would be pronounced "Ya-no" ... and IS most of the time, as in Llano Estacado ["staked plains"]; but the town's name is pronounced "Lah-no".)

Trivia:  William Sydney Porter had some personal experience in Central America.  In 1891, he was a teller in the First National Bank in Austin, Texas, and was accused (wrongfully) of embezzling a couple of hundred dollars.  To avoid imprisonment, he fled to Honduras.  Shortly afterwards he learned that his wife (still in the U.S.) had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  He returned, surrendered, and spent three years in prison, beginning his writing career there to provide support for his young daughter.

THIS pic of Lou Diamond Phillips, in the poster for "Young Guns" (1988), PERFECTLY captures MY vision for The Llano Kid!  :-)



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