Juan's Story - Diary Excerpts
by John Zielinsky
An Excerpt from the Diary of Elmer Adams, Texarkana, Texas
12 May- Loaned Snowy to Cooter Jones, He's got a stump that needs pulling. I hope he returns her before I have to get them cows to New Little Rock. The crops are doing well. It'll take some doing getting 'em all in by myself.
13 May- Strange day. One of them Mexicans rode into town on a yeller dirt bike. When he walks into the saloon, old Wiley Brown up and has a heart attack. The man was dead afore he hit the floor. The Mexican was looking fer work, said his name was Juan. I hired him on to help with the spring harvest. He'll be back in three days.
14 May- Cooter still has Snowy, and that stump ain't moved. I suggested dynamite, but Cooter never listens. Little Timmy tells me as I come in from the fields that the old well's finally gone dry. Fortunately, we got the pump Daddy an' me an' Cooter dug afore the war. Covered the old well, told Timmy to stay clear.
15 May- Storm clouds gathering. Old Widow Jones says it's a bad omen that evil's coming this way. Strange way to talk during Sunday services.
16 May- Jim Anderson and his boys came back through town. I wish someone would shoot that no good dirty dog. He's like a swarm o' grasshoppers- always taking, and givin' nothing but grief. He came by, looking for Jolene. He was all liquored up, and there woulda been trouble if she hadn't been over at her boyfriend, Steve's. As it is, he up and took half the trade I got from last fall's harvest. Some of 'em, I was gonna give to maw. Widow Jones was right, I guess. The old rattlesnake said he'd be back in a week. If it rains, it pours.
17 May- Terrible day. Juan arrived in the mornin'. Sent him over to Cooter's to get Snowy back. As he got to Cooter's there's a huge bang they heard all the way out at the blacksmith's. Cooter'd been soaking dynamite in spook juice, and was probably smoking a cigar while tryin' to clear out that stump. Stump's gone. So's Cooter. Snowy's all skittish, and Juan says his ears is ringing terrible. Jolene's all weepy, can't get a word out'n her.
18 May- Sent Juan to work out in the fields. Storm clouds seemed to thicken. Caught Timmy playin' atop the covered well. Whupped him good. Jolene still ain't talking.
19 May- Found out what's into Jolene. Steve's neighbor found him dead- shot in the back. I asked Jolene about it, and she breaks down, tellin' me that Anderson's boys kilt Steve and had their way with her. I wish there's something I could do to get that varmint back! I'd take him to Hell personally if I could...
20 May- Juan come back from harvesting. Took him to the saloon and I told him my problems over a few beers. Most of the town's got similar stories about that Anderson bastard. Juan pulls out a couple o' semi-automatic pistols, real nice, and offers to take care o' Jim and his boys. The town agrees to pay him what we can to git rid of the varmints. As we were leavin' one of the girls upstairs leans on the railing, busts through and falls- she landed on a piece o' wood, and it went straight through her heart. Terrible shame. Maw once bought me her services as a birthday present when she was bearin' little Timmy.
21 May- Sent Juan to New Little Rock to sell the cows to Stu Johnson. He'll be back sundown tomorrow. Clouds broke up some.
22 May- Old Widow Jones says I been living with death hisself, and need to exorcise him from my life. I think she's going off the deep end. Juan come back late with a note from Stu's wife. Seems he got gored to death when my cows get nervous and tried to stampede. Her note asked if I could accept payment later. Juan gave me back his day's wages to help me tide the family over another day or so.
23 May- Anderson come back. He and his men come riding down main street- only to run into Juan, who's standing smack in the middle of the street. He just stares at 'em , and their horses stop dead. Stinky Williams fell off'n his horse. Juan says to Jim, "Seņor, I'm calling you down to draw!" Jim's men back off some, but Anderson just sits there and laughs. He nods to his men, gits down off'n his horse, and calls the count. Juan didn't know Jim's boys were getting their guns ready to ambush him, but it didn't matter. Big Jim gets to three (Don't think he could count no higher) The lead started flying. Jim never had a chance- he was outdrew as Juan pulled out both pistols, and let him have it with both of 'em. Three o' Jim's boys found their marks, and each of 'em got a bullet in the head ad a reward. Two of Jim's boys ride off like they's escaping Satan hisself., while Stinky Williams is still tryin' to get back on his horse. They got spooked- we all did, when Juan didn't even flinch as he got hit by three slugs. Juan goes over to each of the bodies, and they're dead as nails, when Stinky finally gets on his horse, and takes a pot shot at Juan. Juan just turns around, real cool like, and shoots Stinky in the shoulder, knockin' him off his horse.He strolls over to Stinky, who's begging for his life, and shoots him right between the eyes. Juan bends over him, and has this jewel in his hand, which starts glowin' as Stinky gurgles his last breath. On one hand, the rotten old dogs are dead, but somethin' ain't right about that glow. Lightning in the evening.
24 May- I dug four slugs out of the Mexican today- It wasn't easy, as I was cryin' pretty hard. Little Timmy fell into the well and broke his neck. Juan helped me fetch his body out, but fell down in a faint afterwards, due to his injuries. Stinky was a better shot than I thought, but Juan's a tough son of a gun to take four slugs and still walk around like it was nothin'. Skies are black, just like my heart.
25 May- Took Juan to see Doc Silver Cloud. He's a pretty good sawbones, and some folks say he gits help from Injun spirits. He was helpin' Sandy Berkowitz deliver her and the Rabbi's fourth, but the child was stillborn. Sandy gits all hysterical and screams that it's Juan's fault.. Doc shoots her full of happy juice, and she quiets down real quick. Rabbi Berkowitz leaves a cryin'. The Doc turns his attention to Juan, and his eyes get real big, and he says he can't do no more than change his bandages and give him some ointment and asks us to leave, now. Didn't even ask for payment. Things just keep getting stranger. Sky's still like a velvet cloak, and no rain.
26 May- Juan was better, so I sent him to help dig graves with Blackie Washington, the undertake. I tended maw and Jolene in their greivin'. Blackie got hisself some help, seein' he's diggin' graves for Jim Anderson, his brother Carl, their boys Zack Fleetwood, Billy Spence and Stinky Williams, Connie Jones (That saloon girl was none other than Widow Jones' granddaughter!), the Berkowitz baby, and our poor little Timmy. They had to dig another 'un, because Ed Farley's pickaxe slipped its handle, and plugged Blackie in the head. The boys all swear it's Juan's fault, and I ain't too sure they're wrong. More clouds and dry thunder, and the heat's getting crazy.
27 May- Funeral day. Most all the town's there, if just to spit on Anderson's grave. Sent Juan back to New Little Rock to get payment for my cows. Don't think the townsfolk wanted him at the funeral nohow. We put a lot of good folks in the ground with my boy today. The Rabbi and the Rev. Horton confer after the services. I her 'em say something about "that Mexican," but I don't ask , since I had to bring maw and Jolene home... Rain finally broke, and hard.
28 May- Juan didn't return. It's just as well, the way the folks round here been thinkin' of him. Jolene was feelin' poorly, so she went to see Doc Silver Cloud. Still raining.
29 May- After Sunday services, Juan come back with Sherrif Winston from New Little Rock, and all my cows! Seems Juan had come upon Melissa Johnson, Stu's widow, as she's being robbed. Juan guns the hombre down, but not before he plugs Melissa. One of the deputies storms in, and catches Juan hunched over the robber with a glowing crystal in his hand. Melissa's just got enough life in her to tell the law dog that Juan's innocent afore she dropped off. The Johnsons had no kin, so the Sherfif and a deputy rounded up my cows and headed back here with Juan to verify his story. Yesterday, the deputy's horse was spooked by a snake, and threw the man, breakin' his neck. That was what delayed 'em. While I's dealing with that, Jolene throws herself in Bear Creek. We fished her out, but she's nearly drownt. Doc Silver Cloud doesn't think there's much hope, and told me why she might have done it- she's pregnant. I told him 'bout what happened between her and Anderson's boys. He just shook his head. Maw went to bed early in hysterics. The folks said that I'd best run the Mexican off, but I argued that it ain't right till we pay him for killin' Anderson. They git the goods together, not nearly what we'd promised originally, while I talk to Juan. I tell him how the town just don't seem to want him, and he's wore out his welcome, and such. He nods and understands, and takes the little the town scraped together, riding off into the sunset. I'd been expecting the Widow Jones to be goin' on about Juan during services earlier in the day, but she weren't there. First time in all her life she's done that.
30 May- A small joy come into the house- Jolene woke up, and will be fine. Doc Silver Cloud is amazed, and then he tells her there ain't no way her baby was from one of Anderson's boys- it must have been Steve's. She just blushes and admits that they'd rolled in the hay once or twice, and that was why she was with him the night he's murdered. I don't think that the child will be fatherless- Steve's twin brother Stan come down from Oklahoma to tidy up his late brother's affairs, and stopped by once he heard of Jolene's health. He sweeps in and holds her by her hand, askin if she's all right, and declares that he and Steve had always had feelings for our Jolene ever since they's little boys. When Jolene picked Steve, Stan got involved with a divorcee with a boy about Timmy's age. They got married, and not too long ago, her ex come by and blew her brains out afore taking his own life. Stan brought the boy, and he's as cute as a button. Little Karl , that's his name, even strayed over to the old well, which I ain't fixed since Timmy's accident, and keeps way back, telling us to put a cover on it, case someone falls in. I cried, but I laughed, too. I think everything's gonna be all right., if these boys stay. Light rain fell today, but the sky cleared up. Good for the crops.
31 May- Got word that there's a new cattleman takin' over Stu Johnson's business, and he'll pay me twice what Stu offered me- Stu'd been holding back on me, and makin' a big profit. Stan said he'd run 'em down if we watched Karl. He left late today after checking out Steve's affairs and running down to visit the Widow Jones. Found out why she missed services on Sunday. Stan said that from the flies, she'd been dead in her parlor at least a couple of days. Another light rain, followed by sunshine. Weather's back to normal, at least...
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