Valley of Fire

Free Valley of Fire by Johnny D. Boggs

Book: Valley of Fire by Johnny D. Boggs Read Free Book Online
Authors: Johnny D. Boggs
but those wasn’t what I wanted. I’d hoped to find that little five-shot pistol.
    The Mexican told me to move, so I stepped away.
    He was on his knees again, putting a bedroll at the foot of the cot, gently lifting the nun’s bum leg, elevating it. “Señor, if you can get a fire going, we shall boil water. And heat up coffee and soup. When was the last time you have eaten?”
    Criminy, now that he mentioned coffee and soup, my stomach started growling.
    That Mexican farmer, he sure was thorough. While the coffee and soup warmed, he boiled the white shirt I’d ripped, then cut that into more strips and fashioned a real good bandage. I reckoned that he had suffered even more accidents than me. He seemed that good at doctoring.
    Folks can fool you. I’d figured that farmer for some uncouth bum, but them big hands of his had a woman’s touch. He was gentle as he refixed the Sister’s leg, though I am proud to say he didn’t find no fault with them stitches. He cleaned her leg some more, wrapped the bandage on good and tight, and covered Geneviève with a pretty blanket. He also removed the purse and pouches from her pockets, and left them beside the nun’s side.
    â€œAre you alone here?” I asked over his shoulder.
    â€œ Sí. Unless you count the mules, burro, and goats.” He kept focused on Sister Geneviève. “Me llamo Jorge de la Cruz.” Grunting, he pushed himself to his feet, turned, and them Old Testament eyes of his blazed through me. He had just told me his name. Now, it ain’t polite to ask a fellow his name, and he wasn’t asking, but I could tell he wanted to know. Wanted to know my name, and a lot of other things.
    â€œI am Big Tim Pruett.” Hell, it was the only handle I could think of.
    â€œYou are not very big, señor.”
    I shrugged. “That’s what they call me.”
    It satisfied him. “The Sister sleeps. That is good. Come, Señor Pruett. We shall eat.”
    While Sister Geneviève rested, we sat at the table, me on my second helping of tortilla soup, and Jorge de la Cruz slowly sipping coffee, glancing at the nun every now and then. At last, he asked me, “How did you get here?”
    I wiped my mouth with my left hand, then wiped my hand on my trousers. He filled my empty tin cup with more coffee, and I sipped it.
    I knowed that question would come along, so I’d been thinking on an answer. “We was traveling on the westbound train.” That much was true. “We left the train last night.” So was that. “She is on her way to Anton Chico, and asked me to guide her.”
    â€œTo the parish of San José?”
    That must have been the Catholic church there, so I nodded.
    He set his cup of coffee in front of him. “Why did you not follow the road from Romero to Anton Chico?”
    â€œShe’s a nun. Wants to visit all the farms along the river.”
    Glory to God, he believed it. His head bobbed. “And how did she come to cut her leg so badly?”
    â€œIt was nighttime,” I said. “She slipped, must have bashed her leg against a sharp rock. We was making camp just by the trestle. I didn’t know she’d cut herself. And she didn’t tell me. Stubborn, she is. Stubborn as a witch.”
    He didn’t like that, but kept on listening, just listening and sipping and staring. Trying to catch me in a lie, but if there’s one thing I was good at, it was lying.
    I kept on talking. “Must have wrapped it herself. Never let on. I don’t think she would have told me nothing, but when we crossed the Pecos to get to your farm, the cold water must have shocked her. She passed out.”
    That’s something else Big Tim Pruett had taught me. Adding a dash of truth to your lies makes any falsehood more believable. It sure was working for me.
    â€œIt’s a miracle that I reached her before the current took her under and

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