Johnny and the Pinto
by  Cat
 
 

Johnny remembered talking to his pinto in ďPerson UnknownĒ. I wonder if he might have said something like this:


Come on, horse, just a few more miles. I know, you ache and I do too. My backside feels like itís bin through so much hell it donít have any more feelin in it at all. How long we bin going on, then? Too dark to tell time right. Wish I had me a watch. You gotta walk, I know that, but it does seem almighty slow.

I wisht Iíd taken that manís coat. It only had but the one hole in it. Itís cold up in these hills, coulda used a coat. Maybe if I walk awhile itíll give you a chance to rest and me a chance to get some feeling back in me.

There now, ainít that better. Hey, you like it when I pull your ear, donít you, caballo. How much further you reckon you can go now? This walkingís doiní me some good, I can feel it already. Iím a might sore down my side, so I guess what I did wasnít such a good idea. Cept maybe Iíd be dead if I hadnít dived when I did. Had a feeling he had a partner. He wasnít reckoning on me knowing something about how things go along. I reckon seventeenís a mite betterín sixteen. I learned a whole lot this year. Got the draw down, like thisÖ Sorry, horse, didnít mean to spook you. This here revolver, it goes off real easy now. I learned how to do that this year. I learned how to look a man in the eye and how to hold off, and when to hold my breath and the moment to choose. Iím goin to be the best I can at this business.
I learned about women this year, too. They like the way I look. Itís easy to get them to come to me; I just sit in the saloon and look hungry and lost Ė which ainít too hard, I tell you Ė next thing you know, one of themís feeding me and another oneís giving me a drink, and then later Ė woooeee Ė horse, you shoulda seen that girl in the last town. Or maybe you did. She was Ė sweet. And that bed, and a bathtub in the room! I never been so clean and so Ė well, that was soft living. And look at me now; Iím just as dirty as ever I was. And cold. And hungry again. Whyíd I spend that hundred dollars all at once? Next time Iím gonna make sure I keep somethiní back for a rainy day.

Hold up there, horse. I walked far enough. Iím tired of walkiní. I need a place to make camp. I gotta be on time day after tomorrow but I guess we come far enough. Down by that stream, mebbe? Come on, now, you can have a drink and I can git a fire to goiní. Madre de dios, whereíd I put Ė oh, here she is, si, now, I fetch some of that dry wood Ė can just see to do that. Maybe I can catch me a rabbit Ė no, donít be stupid, too late for that. Well, I bin hungry before. Hey, horse Ė whoís that? Come down here, hush now Ė donít want to be caught out Ö
 
 

Por favor, horse, stand still. Hush Ė donít get spooked now. I canít run after you. If you leave thatís it for me Ė canít do it Ė canít even get into the saddle. Maybe if you just walk forward a while, let me hang on. Gotta git me some help, any help. So this is what itís like, horse. Seen it so many times, so many times. Never thought of it happening to me, not like this, not so soon. I learned a lot, such a lot. Why didnít I keep moviní?

All right, horse, hold up here, this bank should do it. There, just let me Ė there, got my foot in the stirrup so if you could just kindly move a little this way, yeah, this way, nowÖ
 

That hurt, horse. If you wanted to know it, that hurt like nothing I felt before. Wish I could reach round, find where that bullet took me. I mean, I can feel it but Ė if I could just get something on it itíd feel better, I know it would. Maybe if I took that spare shirt Ė maybe if I can just reach round for the saddlebag. Hope those guys back there are dead. Tried to hit them so theyíd die quick. Once that bullet took me, I donít know, maybe I didnít do such a good job.

Get on, donít wait for me to tell you, Iím just hanging on here best I can. Least this shirtís stopped the bleeding a bit, I think. Not running down my back no more. Is it better the bulletís still in there or not? I seen what a bullet does on the way out. Maybe Iíd be dead right now. I donít know. I ainít a doctor. What if the doc ainít there? Canít stop shaking, horse Ė I know itís makiní you nervous. You just keep goiní. I ainít groanin to put you off, just canít seem to help it.

Long way Ė but at least those lights down there, thatís the town. Feelin a mite light-headed here, maybe I ainít gonna make it. Thereís a house or some such up ahead. Maybe the folks thereíd help me? Donít want to impose though. And maybe theyíve heard of Johnny Madrid and theyíll just send me on my way. More folks than Iíd have thought have heard of me. Whoa! You nearly lost your rider there! Whatís ailing you? You ainít moving right now Ė you tore something? You went down that hole just at the wrong time. Well, I guess thatís it then, them lights are too far off now for sure, for you and me. This hole I got, it just keeps leaking and I ainít got that much blood to waste, I donít reckon anyways. Well, Iíll get down, you wonít have to carry me no more. Maybe if I just shout out now, the folksíll help me. Last chance, I reckon, horse. Last chance.
 
 

You breathe in, horse Ė you ainít fooliní me none. Just because I ainít rid you in a while, donít mean you can blow yourself up and me not notice. There, thatís better Ė though youíre fatterín a hog after all this good food you been eatiní. I bin fed good too, least as good as they could manage, and I am goiní to pay them back, I swear it. But my pants, theyíre a mite looser; had to borrow some rope to keep íem decent. Maybe I better get some new ones next chance I get. Have to get a new shirt, too Ė donít want to go advertising to the world Iíve been shot. That wonít go with the picture of me, Johnny Madrid, now will it.

I know, horse, I know. You donít want to leave, do you? You like it here. Nice place, sheltered, and she keeps it all so neat and clean. Like me. She kept me neat and clean for them first days, till I could do for myself again. Didnít know where I was Ö hush now, here she comes. Donít know what Iím gonna say, but Iím gonna thank her best way I know how.
 
 

Well now, I guess itís just you and me again. I hope youíre ready to have your ears talked off, horse, because I Ė well, I guess I got kinda used to haviní people around who Ė well, they cared for me. Yeah, shake your head, I knowíd youíd do that. Donít believe me, do you. Well, that girl Ė I promised myself I wouldnít look back. Because if I do I might just end up ridiní straight back there and I donít reckon no man would do that. So Iím just goiní to watch the road and keep agoiní, no turning round or nothiní, and I reckon sheíll understand why Iím doiní that. Leastways, I hope she does. But I want to look just once more, I want that so badly. Wonít do no good but that donít mean I donít want to do it.

The place must be out of sight now. So maybe just one glanceÖ Yeah, out of sight, like I said. Right. Now, Iíll move along the road aways, further back towards the border again. Seemed to be headiní north there for a while, not sure why. Gonna miss her though, same way I missed Ma Ė not, no the same way. Though she fed me like Ma did, when I couldnít feed myself. Made some food specially. Had an odd taste but it helped, I know it did. You know what painís like? Like you want to step away from your body because itís paining you so much, but youíre trapped there and ainít nothiní goiní to stop your mind worrying away at the pain. I had a fever, she said. I guess her Pa helped out then, I donít know. I donít remember too much. A few things Ė like a fire, I remember that, and the smell of food cooking; and how hot it was in the house, although it might have been how hot I was, I donít know for sure. But she kept right at it, forcing me to drink and eat that broth, and changing the bandages. Hated that. Worst part was moviní. Lyiní still now, that werenít so bad.

Then we just talked and talked. Is it easier talkiní to a stranger? I guess sometimes. I told her a few things I never told no-one else, except you maybe. Got to where Iíd know just what I could say and what I should leave out. Some of the things said, they set me to thinkiní after a while, though I donít see how I could change, just for a girl. No, ainít likely I will. She said she thought takiní a life meant I was takiní somethiní from myself too. Iím goiní to think on that some, I reckon. But it feels so good, when I do the job right. And now Iíve learned, find out about the man youíre planning to gun down, make sure he ainít got friends to come and try to set things right, eye for an eye. Damn fool thing I did, forgettiní simple thing like that. Two more people dead. Them or me. Straightforward enough for anyone. Still hope they didnít suffer too much. Half killed me, too. Last year, mebbe, that would have been it Ė Iíd have thought that far and then stopped thinkiní altogether. I donít know what I mean. Itís like I can see a bit further now.

Wonder if her Pa will ever know Ė well, you wonít go telliní will ya. Feel stupid just telliní you tho. If heíll ever know how I felt about her? Mustnít let that happen again Ė gettingí that attached, it ainít good in my profession. Have to break myself of that. I think I heard one man talk once, said falliní for the nurse, that was a common thing to do. Maybe he came through some war or other. I heard tell thereís a war. Or it just started, mebbe; or somethiní; anyways, maybe it was then. So I got to be strong and get back on the road. I am goiní to be one helluva gunfighter and no pretty girl is gettingí in the way of that ambition. Just hold up a minute here, horse, I got something in my eye, fly or somethiní. Canít go into town lookingí like thereís somethiní wrong with my eyes.


THE END


 
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