Mr. Murphy was a settling man who lived free of companions, but the fact of the matter is this – he was not lonesome. Lonesomeness in his case was silent and unclassified, but he did play around with his own concepts. He sat on the porch of our shack, drowsy and what seemed to be drunk.
That day was one of the sweltering, and we usually saw dry days in Texas, where Smurf would either go to sleep, or get drunk trying. Bo had stayed in a tent built with his brother, but he was only a tween, so we didn’t have a clue what to make of him. He had tan-ish skin, and we knew he had been living in the sun his whole life, so he could handle a bit of skin peeling. We lived a couple of miles away from the village because there was a river closer by us. Anyway, Smurf and I moved down to the bar, traveling the somewhat dried-up river.
“Sand is pasty around here,” Smurf had muttered. “It looks safe for hunting, but I didn’t know what the laws were about around here.” We laid a couple of pebbles on the moist sand.
“Bo’ll be marked for the land,” I guessed. We called the town Lead, and we called it that because we were on the river that narrowly ‘lead’ up to Miller, a gold mining city where the government had installed the Stoker Dam. There wasn’t much of anything around our place, but I had bet we weren’t gonna try to get out of there. We lived in a shack-like structure, with a rusty iron roof and chunky clay bricks. It was dry inside, and didn’t have anything in it, just a burlap-sack bed and a wooden porch. Anyhow, clumsily striding through the riverside, me and Smurf had gotten to the thicker parts of underbrush, where trees and bushes were blocking our paved-out route.
“Any chance we can stop by… uh… one of the Mo’s today?” he asked. Smurf called auction houses “Mo’s,” half because he liked the word, and half because we all were used to him using the term.
“What do you need horses for?”
“One of the Indian folk in Arizona had sent me a letter, showing us a warrant they were trying to get on our claim,” he uttered, while jumping over a log. At that point we had no clue as to what the Navajo were trying to get our land for, as the plain-skinned guy who sold us the land had not informed us.
Smurf had looked at my troubled expression quizzically, knowing I wasn’t going down easy on our land. I had gotten so much of our profit into mining everything I could get out of our dry and sandy ground.
Up until the point me and Smurf got out of the underbush, we were unscathed, but as we were walking into the major square of the town, bits of sand started to hit our face by the wind. I had dragged Smurf on over to the town mostly just for poker to get a bit of money into my hands, but he now seemed up for some games.
We walked up onto the patio of the new bar, which opened a couple of months ago, just to rest for a minute until someone came into view. The bartender, a guy named Vinnie, stepped out of the locked building all tired looking, but he had clearly gotten a new trim for the time being. I didn’t know if he himself wanted to do anything, but almost as soon as I thought this, he quickly trod over to talk to me and Smurf.
“The landlords had been after you, ya know?” Vinnie said quickly.
“Since when have the Indians actually won a case?” Smurf responded as he straightened up in his chair.
“I don’t know, but you guys better get back to Mexico before anyone whips at your asses.”
I got out of my seat to stretch out and run over to a vendor and get a six-pack to calm down Smurf. I kept my own counsel, but I reckoned Smurf was devising a plan to steal some horses and flee cross-country, or something to do with Bo. I then hurried back across to street to pass a beer to Vinnie and maybe one to Smurf.
“You boys wanna go back home for the night?” Smurf blurted out.
“Why would I go? My gran’s got a place in Lead,” Vinnie shot back at him.
“I guess I’m stressed on the whole of it, but any time wasted is just as bad as any time they have to get closer to us.”
“We should head back to get ready,” I pitched in.
Vinnie sent us on our way and we took a trail back to the land. I knocked on the steel-plated door, and a couple of seconds later it opened up to reveal the face of a little Indian boy.
“Where abouts you come from?” Smurf asked as we walked into the shack. I had noticed the kid didn’t really want to speak, so we just gave him a cup to play with. We sat for a couple of minutes, until Smurf got up to pour beans into the one little stove we had. We sat for a little longer waiting for it to be prepared, the pan sizzling.
As Smurf stood up from the bare floor to get bowls for us, we heard a knock at the door. Then there was another knock, and another. But they didn’t stop, loud bangs in the numbness of my brain.