Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Twenty One

Diana and Macy galloped all the way to the corral. After they cooled their horses and stored their gear, they walked back to camp where the found Will, Boeing, Paloma and Cascabel making jerky in a clearing near the mine. The young men had skinned a deer and stretched the hide across a rack. Now they were cutting the lean meat into strips which the women boiled with salt, chile and honey before fishing out the cooked pieces and hanging them to dry. It was messy work and from a distance, the mosquito netting, necessary for keeping flies off the meat, billowed in the rising wind.

“Didn’t turn out to be such a good day for this, did it?” Diana asked.

“You know how it is,” Paloma said, wiping her hands on her smock and glancing at the darkening sky. “Once the boys bring down a deer, we can’t wait. The storm might pass right on by like the one two days ago.”

“Why can’t we eat the deer for dinner? We’ll shoot another one tomorrow, and we can make jerky then.”

Will looked up from the bloody carcass. “Harley thought we should have something a little more special than venison tonight. They've got a surprise for us.”

“Oh good,” Macy said. “Things have been boring lately.”

“Maybe for you,” Boeing muttered.

“I heard that. Some of us don’t spend every weekend in town.”

“Maybe you should. You’d make money a lot faster than waiting around here for Coyote to purchase your services.”

Before Macy could reply, Will tapped him on the forearm with the flat of his knife. "Leave the girl alone, man."

Boeing examined the streak of blood across his arm, then took his own knife and did the same to Will.

“You want your arms to match, don’t you?” Will leaned over and scraped some blood on Boeing’s other arm.

Diana laughed. “How about you two quit playing with your food and tell us what the surprise is?”

Will stood up and painted her cheekbones with his bloody fingers. “Now you look like my little Apache.”

“They never did this on the reservation."

"We'll start our own tribe."

"And these are our marks?" She dabbled her fingers in the carcass and swiped them across his forehead. “Now that we're members of the same tribe, tell me what’s for dinner.”

"I'm not done with you yet." Will was painting Diana’s nose over Macy’s giggles when Paloma looked up from the fire. “That’ll go over well with the new Unitas commander. He's going to think we’re a bunch of heathens.”

“But we are heathens,” Will said.

“Speak for yourself,” Cascabel sniffed.

“I don’t care what anyone from central command thinks,” Diana said. “They know we’re good at what we do.” She turned back to Will. “So that’s the surprise? Company?”

“Better,” Boeing said. “Galileo picked out a goat for dinner.”

“Cabrito!” Diana clapped her hands. “I’ll take that over deer any day.”

Cascabel pursed her lips. “Then maybe you’ll want to wash the deer off your face before your mother sees you.”

“I’ve told you before, my mother’s dead.” If Diana had hoped to embarrass her, she was disappointed, so she turned to Macy. “Let’s find Auntie.”

“Looking like that?” the women asked.

"Why not?" Diana affected an innocent air. "She tried to get me to wear makeup in San Eusebio, you know.” Before she could finish the thought, a crack of thunder burst over the mountain like a gunshot, and fat, heavy drops began to fall. “Oh, hell.” Serious now, Diana jumped to move the racks of drying meat to a nearby shelter.

Will and Boeing picked up the deer and hide while Macy and Cascabel scurried to grab the kettle. Just as the sky opened up and rain began coming down in torrents, Diana dashed for a strip of mosquito netting that had come loose and threatened to blow away in the wind. By the time she made it back to shelter, the rain had washed her face clean.

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Alice Audrey said...

This is a nice little interlude. The calm before the storm perhaps. :)

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Yes, things are going to get ugly, but not for awhile.