Chico X- Part 1
The crumbs on the Mexican’s moustache were damp with beer. He sat alone at the bar, smiling a near toothless smile. The bartender stood at one corner smoking a hand-rolled cigarette that probably had more prairie weed than tobacco in it. The place was quiet and still- empty except for the two- and neither man talked to the other.
The wooden doors swung open on their hinges and three vaqueros came walking in.
The darker man translated as the Mexican told about when he was a kid. The banditos would come riding into the pueblos shooting and drinking and hollering and looting until they were too drunk to loot anymore.
One day, when he was eight or nine, the Mexican watched as one wily banditos shot his father six times in the chest and then fell drunk off his horse. As the strangers kept putting out for the Tequila, the Mexican kept talking. He told how the drunken raids kept getting worse and worse until one night, as the banditos were extra unruly; a mysterious form haunted the shadows. His sword was fast, and his message was clear. The banditos, even in their inebriation, had the sense to ride off and only a few ever came back. This hero of the night became a legend across the pueblos. The details changed from place to place, but the name became a part of the legend; they called him Chico X.
His father was a lazy man and a failure and his mother was young when he was born. For seven years she tried to leave the child with friends or family, but when no one would have him, she took him into the jungle and left him to his own.
No one knows quite what happened to the boy after that day, but the mother returned to the village and grew older and more unpleasant until she died.
The Mexican had passed out from the Tequila and the strangers had left. It was dark in the place, and the noises of the night echoed through the room.
The cowboy’s boots made mad puffs of dust rise at each step. Their worn leather was covered with dirt and dung and tobacco juice. The spurs jingled as the boots came down.
He passed some boys who were sitting in the street, playing some game with small stones and sticks and stopped in front of a Mexican who was softly playing a guitar. He threw seven gold dollar coins on the ground in front of the Mexican who looked up at him slowly and told him that seven dollars could buy a lot of information around these parts.
The cowboy nodded and the Mexican grabbed the coins, stood up, and swung his guitar over his poncho-covered back. The cowboy walked and the Mexican followed.
The walk was silent and long, finally ending when they reached a river. The cowboy sat on a boulder and indicated that the other should do likewise. For the first time, the Mexican caught a glimpse of the cowboy’s face from beneath the shadow of his wide-brimmed hat. His face was rough like any seasoned man of the prairies and deserts. His jaw tensed and stretched as he chewed on something- probably tobacco.
“There’s a dead Mexican in the saloon. Some strangers came in, loaded him up with Tequila and left him when he had told them what they wanted to hear.”
The Mexican sat silent, scratching the wild whiskers on his cheek.
“I would have liked to know something of the Mexican’s story, but that’ll be a might bit problem now. So I want you to tell me what the man knew. ”
“I have no amigos here. He was jus’ another man,” the Mexican fidgeted with the worn strings on his guitar.
“You’re both Mexicans. I don’t need all the details, just the story.”
The Mexican looked up from his guitar and then down to the side iron on the cowboy’s hip. The cowboy nodded for him to continue.
It was getting dark by the time the Mexican finished his version of the Chico X legend, and the cowboy had started a fire and pulled some cooking tins from his pack. Both men slept lightly that night, and both rose with the sun the next day.
“I need a guide. Take me to the pueblo nearest the jungle. I’ll pay you fifty gold dollars; twenty-five now and the rest when we get to the pueblo.”
“I’m not going into the jungle.”
“You won’t have to.”
They spent the morning in the town, the cowboy bought supplies and the Mexican waited with the horses. By high sun, they were both on the trail south.
They were four boys from the pueblos who had become bored with playing the same old games in the hot streets. They had at first come to the edge of the jungle, each one showing himself more valiant than the others by walking just a bit further in. After some hours, they were completely lost, but the shade from the large leafs was a welcome one compared to the afternoon sun back at home.
They tried to hide their fear by telling jokes and making light of their situation, but as it became darker, the jokes became less and the boys stayed closer to each other. Legends of the jungle’s animal beasts and haunted spirits came more vividly to the young minds with each bird that took flight or monkey that passed overhead.
The four finally decided that they should set up a camp and they got to work building a fire and shelters. It was a long, uneasy night.
The cowboy rode on his horse and the Mexican walked along to the side. They at first followed the river south, but soon the trail took them southeast into the hills and towards the flatlands.
As the sun grew more intense, the Mexican more frequently pulled back his wide sombrero to wipe the sweat off of his forehead. The cowboy kept his eyes fixed on the horizon as if deep in thought.
The boy without parents made a cave mostly underground, covered over with the large jungle leaves. No one told him to survive, but he did anyway. He ate the ants and the birds and the spiders and the fish when he could get them.
One night, when the noises of the jungle were more quiet than usual, he sat on the highest branch that could support him in one of the larges trees around.