Third in the Destiny Series
I stand up and I pretend I’m as ready as I can be. Inwardly, though, I laugh bitterly. I’m not ready, I never will be. Damn, my legs are shaking so much that I’m grateful for those hated baggy white pants. Hell, maybe I should have accepted that blindfold. I look briefly at the bright blue sky before I lower my eyes to watch the lieutenant. He will be the one giving the order and soon, bullets will hit me and it will be over.
I try to think about something else, anything but firearms and bullets. But my mind keeps going back to that. I wonder how many bullets they will pump into my body. Will it hurt so much that I’ll scream and disgrace myself? Will it take long before I finally die? Once again, I look at the sky. I already feel the heat of a day that promises to be very hot. Soon, very soon, I won’t feel anything.
Mierda! This waiting is “killing me” – what a joke! Is he playing with my nerves, or what? Maybe El Capitán only wants to scare me shitless. Maybe… Dios, here I am, fooling myself again! Then I hear it… the lieutenant orders his men to get ready. I swallow but there’s a lump in my throat. Dios, please, let me face this as a man. Give me the strength not to cower. Give me the strength to stare at death without blinking, without giving away how scared I truly am…
Then I hear a rumble in the distance. The lieutenant and I both turn toward the noise to see a carriage moving quickly. A man dressed in black is driving it as if the hounds of hell were after him. Nobody is looking at me and I debate with myself whether or not I should take my chances while they all seem occupied with this new arrival.
Guess I’m a fool. Instead of trying to escape and risk a bullet in my back, I stay, unmoving, waiting for my destiny – a destiny that is only being delayed a little. The man stops near the wagon – the same one that was used to bring me and the other prisoners here – and he talks to the lieutenant. I can barely make out what he’s saying. They keep talking and I try to forget for a moment that soon I won’t be breathing anymore. Then, my curiosity takes over and I squint my eyes and concentrate on the man’s lips, trying to understand what he’s saying.
His raised voice drifts toward me...
“… Madrid. Your captain in the village said he might be one of your prisoners.”
No one is more surprised than me as a flicker of hope surges in the back of my mind and I hear myself responding. “I’m Madrid.”
The man looks at me in a strange way… “Well, finally found you,” he says as he steps down from the carriage. He turns his face toward the lieutenant and speaks again to him.
“Señor, it ah… it’s muy importante that you not kill el señor Madrid. La vida d’el señor Madrid is worth muy dineros. Sabe?”
The rest is like a dream. The man in black opens his black billfold and gives a handful of bills to the lieutenant and then walks toward me. If I were not so dazed, I think I would laugh. Hell, maybe my life isn’t quite over yet. He’s right beside me now… and he unties my hands.
“Why’re you doing this?” I ask him.
“I’m a Pinkerton Agent. Your father wants to see you.”
I’m shocked and for a brief moment, I wonder if it shows on my face. I simply can’t believe what I hear and, still surprised, I ask, “Lancer?”
“He’s willing to give you one thousand dollars for one hour of your time.”
Shit!! That’s a lot of money. Now, why would he do that, I wonder? After all, he threw my mama and me out when I was a little kid. Must be real important if he’s willing to pay that much money.
My thoughts are interrupted as I look behind this “Pinkerton” man and hear some of what the rurales are saying. They’re a greedy bunch and just as they turn on us, ready to fire, I grab the man’s gun and I push him to the ground. My momentum takes me down with him. I shoot once from below and hit my target. I get up and shove the man into the carriage and turn to shoot again. Another man falls.
“Shall I tell your father you’re coming?” the man in black yells over his shoulder as he grabs the reins.
My gun speaks again and another man falls on the ground. I roughly shove Felipe, the only remaining prisoner, into the back of the carriage. From the corner of my eye, I see a saddled horse nearby… I run and I jump on its back, almost losing those damn white pants in the process.
“For a thousand dollars, I’d even go to hell!” I yell back as I shoot a last time – this time, the lieutenant falls – and I kick the horse’s flank.