Excerpt: Bandita Bonita - Romancing Billy the Kid by Nicole Maddalo Dixon
Title: Bandita Bonita: Romancing Billy the Kid, Book I
Author: Nicole Maddalo Dixon
Buy now: http://amzn.to/1ZaxRVA
About the Author:
Nicole Maddalo Dixon was born and raised in Philadelphia, and lives in Bucks County, PA with her husband, Wallace.
“Not Much Mary Ann"
˗ Andrew “Buckshot” Roberts
After landing back in Patricio we near immediately took off for Blazer’s Mill, but before heading out I saw Jim French there with the rest of the men. I ran to him, throwing my arms around him enthusiastically, happy to see that he was alive. I looked back at Billy who winked and stood smiling.
“What happened, Jim?” I asked.
“Didn’t you ask your boyfriend?”
“He says you were shot in the leg and couldn’t ride out.”
“Yeah….” He looked over at Billy. “Sam stuck me under the floorboards of that bed there in the store.”
“Get the hell out! What then, Jim?” Billy asked, waiting to be captivated by a good tale.
“Well…I lay there on my back with two six-shooters, listenin’ to them goddamn Dolan boys kicking around, looking for me.”
“Ya tricked them out good.” Minxie pointed out.
I was struck dumb by this story.
Jim’s face grew somber, “Last I heard Peppin managed to arrest Alex, a couple of his house boys, too. And Widenmann.
“Under whose goddamned authority?” Billy exclaimed.
“That’s the bitch of it all, Bill. You know authority don’t matter up there.”
“Yeah…don’t I know it…”
A thought occurred to me and my wits returned. “How is it you two managed to get shot?” I turned to Billy. “I thought you said you were behind the corral wall.”
Jim began to answer and I saw Billy give him a sly look, shaking his head slightly. I looked back at Jim, my expression insistent upon him ignoring Billy’s want of discretion. Jim looked between us, uncomfortably caught in the middle.
Feeling now that he must explain he said, “We ran out after Brady fell…their side was taking shots, you know how it is…” he said, attempting to blow it off and make it seem less alarming that it was. He shook his head and waved his hand dismissively, as if I had indeed “knew” how it was.
I looked to Billy with an air of consternation. Commenting on my expression, he said to Jim, “This is what I was wanting to avoid…” He looked down and sucked his breath in between his lips, “We was trying to get the warrant for Alex’s arrest—Brady was carrying it.” As an afterthought he said, “And I wanted my gun back.”
“WERE! Were, Billy! We were trying to get…! Quit speaking like an ignorant imp! And that last part is just plain stupid.”
“Yeah…thanks Jim.” He said, scratching at the back of his neck absently, his sarcasm overt.
Just then Richard rode up.
“What the hell is she doing here?” He bawled. “You’re like the green on a damn bad penny!” He told me. “You were supposed to be in Sumner!”
“She ‘were’.” Billy responded, droll in his summation; I smirked at his being fresh.
“She was supposed to stay in Sumner!”
“She was…” Billy concurred. “But she didn’t.”
“Roberts was spotted up the Rinconada.” Charlie panted, catching up to the crowd of us.
George and Frank Coe were ready to start out after him, and once all the boys were gathered we started out immediately, Minxie staying behind. We headed up the Ruidoso, spending the night on the Rinconada.
As the campfire burned, the remains of a stray, slaughtered steer were cooked. Billy nudged my arm and pointed out to where I could see a shadowy gathering of people in the fading light as they passed by on horseback.
“Apaches.” He said.
Upon hearing this, I blanched and he got himself a good kick out of it, funning me being his reason for pointing them out in the first place. He intended to alarm me for his own pleasure; he told me on purpose!
“Stand down, Lu…they won’t bother us.” He assured me. “There’s plenty of us around.” He clapped me on the back and got up, leaving me to sit there, panicked.
We arrived at Blazer’s Mill and the men rudely demanded supper of the inhabitants. Feeling shamed by their bad manners, I managed to eat only a little, though I was urged to eat more. Refusing, I left the table and stepped out to see to Viola, petting her along the black shading of her sleek face.
“My pretty little Dapple Grey.” I said with affection.
She nudged me approvingly, nickering, and I slid my hand along her snout in appreciation when I heard a state of agitation from around the side of the house. I peered around the wall to investigate, finding that the men were all standing there, guns undone and at the ready. An older man I did not recognize sat with a rifle propped on his lap as he stared down The Regulators as they surrounded him. I watched with terror, but fascinated nonetheless, both wondering and worrying what it was that would happen.
I could see Frank Coe speaking to the old man as if the two were old friends. I heard him say “You will not be hurt, upon my word, if you surrender.” to which the old man responded that he did not believe this, refusing to give up his disposition. He then made a comment I could not hear to the crowd of men before him and a shot had been fired by our side, prompting an all-out firing match. I backed around the corner of the house as the bullets flew, sidling up close to the wall and getting down on the ground, using my arms to shield my head against the skirmish. When the volley had quit I very slowly emerged, still in a crouched position, to peek around side of the house again and view what remained of the fray. Some of our boys were scattered, prone on the ground. I was jolted by this horror, and witnessed Richard walk off, dogged by the haunting resolution of the promise he made to John, citing he would get every last one of them before his last breath was due.
“Where the hell is Lucy? Billy’s unmistakable voice shouted.
“I’m here!” I returned, rushing out to him.
“GET BACK!” He intensely commanded, his tone startling me into retreating. I watching him come towards me as he held his arm—I could see that he was bleeding there. I opened my mouth with the intention of asking him if he was okay, reaching out to touch him, but the words did not come. The fracas was so chaotic, the air so thick with the acrid smell of gunfire and kicked up dust that it clouded my eyes, fogged my mind, and coated my throat so that I could not even manage to ask something so simple as if he was alright.
When I had gone out to Viola, I had untethered her as I planned to ride her around a bit while the others finished eating, anticipating that they’d sit around talking about the war and their plans for it which was always an unhappy topic with me.
Now, always a fair high-strung, Viola bolted at the sound of gunfire. Unfettered and confused by the frenzied disorder, she bucked back and then forward, trotting far enough out to stray near the firing zone, which, to be honest, could have been just about everywhere.
“VIOLA!” I went to run to her but Billy grabbed me and forcibly slammed me back against the wall. I reached out in her direction as I tried to get away from him but he held me fast against that wall.
Bullets flared again, blazing by and hitting the edge of the house causing splinters to spray and skin us both. I heard Viola whicker abnormally and squeal wildly before watching her go down. I kicked at Billy and nearly broke free but he had pushed me back hard.
“STAY PUT, GODDAMMIT!” he yelled directly into my face, his eyes stark as he ordered me.
He put his good arm around me, buckling me, and pulled me with him down to the ground. I kept struggling to look towards Viola so I could at least see her, but Billy shielded me, hovering over me as best as he could to keep me safe and from being hit by the gunfire.
When the firing stopped again Billy lifted his head and turned it, peering out and squinting through the dust in an attempt to see what was happening. While he was distracted with this I slid out from under him and ran to Viola who now lay in the dirt making such horrible gasping, whining sounds—sounds I had never in my life heard a horse make. I knelt down beside her and frantically laid my head upon her side, scared for her, when Billy grabbed me again and began to pull me back. I fought him off, his wounded arm’s strength waning and unable to get purchase of me. I looked up and to the devil’s delight I had done so at such an unfortunate moment—I saw the back of Richard’s head explode, a surge of red spraying thickly, bloody mist mingling with the unsettled dust, gore marking the ground with bits and pieces of him. I stayed still, hearing nothing after witnessing this sight—not Billy screaming at me, not Viola shrilly crying out, not the other men yelling…I only saw Richard, face down in the dust, his gaping head wound explicitly visible. I raised my hands to the sides of my face, pushing my hat back and squeezing them against my ears in shock, my eyes staring, bewildered. It was all over after that.
Reality came back quickly enough and I quickly knelt down and placed my hand upon Viola, feeling her flank rise and fall with each shallow breath, her lungs struggling. The others ran towards us and the horses, hollering about getting a wagon for our wounded and getting the hell out. As they scattered about, preparing the horses and other necessities to leave, the sooner the better, I remained kneeling by Viola, talking to her, telling her it was okay.
Billy watching me pitifully, but with a grave, stern voice he said, “She’s hurt, Lu. She’s hurt real bad.”
I was crying over her body now, sniffling audibly.
“You got to put her down, Lu.”
I looked to him, wide-eyed and irate. “She’ll be fine. Billy, she’ll be fine. She only needs her wound to be tended to, it’s her leg. It’s Only her leg!”
“Her knee’s been blown out, Lucy! And she’s caught one in her breast. There’s nothing to be done for her.”
Men were rushing all about us in a fit of confusion, and we two sat there as though displaced, ensconced in this small tragedy within a larger one. I barely made a move except to sooth Viola, deluded.
“You put your horse down, Lucy!” Billy yelled, knowing my thoughts and how he needed to get through them to me.
“SHUT UP! Don’t you SAY that to me!” I pushed him and slapped at his face. He grabbed a hold of my arms and held them so tight it hurt.
In a blatant, unforgiving voice he said, “Do you see what’s going on here? We don’t have time for this! This is your obligation to take care of! Take your gun out and put your goddamned horse down! She’s suffering, Lu!”
“I WON’T!” I cried. Leave me here, leave me alone! You can go and I’ll stay!” I looked upon him maliciously. “It’s what you want anyway! Leave me with my horse! Nobody asked for your opinion! I certainly don’t care for it!”
“Nobody has to ask for my opinion. I’m not leaving this horse here like this and she’s your responsibility. You take your fucking gun out!”
The boys who could stand stopped running about and gathered around us to watching the scene unfold. Steve Stephens, Big John Scroggins, Henry Brown, Fred Wait, Jose Chavez Y Chavez, and Charlie Bowdre, who tended to his wounded abdomen by pressing his hand against the ache there. He was barely able to stand, and only by the grace of God did the bullet deflect from his buckle, leaving him in pain, still. Josiah, shot through the leg, managed to stand with help from Henry and Fred, watching the scene as well.
Billy leaned in to me, close to my ear, whispering, “Lucy…she’s your horse. She’s down. Put her out of her misery.”
I only sat quietly, rocking with my hands folded across myself, my hands curled into fists, like the child I was.
We don’t have time for this—“ Henry.
Billy held up his hand to him to silence him.
“Billy…” I begged, “Please…leave me. I can’t do this. Don’t make me.”
“Do it!” He yelled.
I shook my head and wept, still holding on to myself. Charlie, who took pity on me, said, “Jesus, Billy…don’t—“
Billy placed the hand of his good arm around my throat, just below my jaw, applying enough pressure to cause me to stand up along with him. He looked me in the eyes firmly and, with a tremendous lack of both patience and empathy, but with an understanding that had broken my heart all the same despite the angry thoughts I had for him, he said to me, “You want to be here? If you can’t even kill a horse, you can’t kill a man. If you want to survive out here, you can’t look the part, Lucy, you have to play it. We lost our captain. We lost Brewer. Roberts blew him apart like he didn’t matter nothing to him, and he didn’t. And now you want to sit here crying over a horse! Now, your horse is in pain, she’s done for. Take that fancy horseshoed Schofield out of its scabbard and go to work.”
I fell apart and grabbed at his jacket, holding on to him, barely able to stand, “Billy? Please? I can’t!” I sobbed. He grabbed my arms, pulling me off of him, and then pulling me back down to the dust. He took the gun from my left hip and placed in within my right hand. At first I refused to hold the gun, but he placed his hand over mine and secured it, squeezing it against the grips. He cocked the hammer and, without removing his hand he guided mine, gun at the ready, placing it directly upon Viola’s brow, squarely between her eyes.
“Pull the trigger.” He gently commanded, still covering my hand with his own, not letting go; letting me know he was with me.
“Show me that strength of yours. Prove to me what you’ve been preaching at me. Prove to me that you can be brave. This is the right thing to do, I wouldn’t lead you wrong.”
Viola’s cries had gone from a piercing desperation to a mere gasping, her once magnificent lungs expended, her nostrils stirring up dust before her and emitting a ghostly vapor against the cold. Her breathing was labored, the full weight of her body bearing down upon her as she lay, helpless, on her side. I still sat there, gun in hand, poised against Viola’s skull.
“I’m here with you, Lucy. I’m right here.” He said, gently. Lovingly, he painfully managed to tuck a stray lock of hair behind my ear with his wounded arm.
“Pull the trigger and be done with it. Your horse needs you now. She’s suffering; she’s scared and she’s dying. To not do this would be cruel. Trust me. You are hurting her far worse by refusing what I say.”
All the men stood watching silently. Billy remained quiet, staring at me, urging me with his eyes and trying, I know, to give me some of his own strength. I closed my eyes, preparing to do what I was told must be done.
“No! Open your eyes, Lucy. Open them!” he demanded.
“Jesus Billy…” came from somewhere around us.
After what seemed a lifetime, I obeyed and opened my eyes, and I pulled the trigger, screaming as I did so in order to help summon the ability to do what felt impossible. I watched the blood spray over her and pour from her, seeping to the ground, the life going out of her by my own hand. As Viola lay silent, the men stood with their heads down. Not over the death of my horse, but over the burgeoning death of my innocence.
“We need to go.” Josiah softly said, attempting to be respectful towards my aggrieved state of being. I stood, and Billy slowly stood up alongside me, still peering at my face. Peripherally, I could see him watching. Without so much as a glance towards him I said, “I hate you.”, and I walked on, away from him. Away from them all towards the readied horses and the wagon that was prepared to pull our wounded. I chose a horse, Middleton’s, I think, as he was placed in the wagon and hauled off to be treated. The others quickly gathered my belongings from my now dead horse and hurridly exchanged them for Middleton’s, placing his along with him in the wagon.
We moved out like bats out of hell.