Like every afternoon of the last three months, the seven of them met for dinner at the town bar. Hoping that the battle wounds will end up leaving their bodies leaving only scars as a reminder of what happened. Eating together had become a regular thing since the last of them had left the confines of a bed. It was comfortable and quiet to be surrounded by each other.
“Hmmmm …” It was the only thing that came out of Red's lips before getting up and leaving the room in absolute silence. He missed the looks that followed each of his steps.
He had barely left the room completely when Faraday leaned suspiciously over the table they shared.
“Tell me what you saw,” he questioned without receiving an answer. “No? Nobody? Ha and I thought you were smarter than that.” He looked at the rest with a reproachful look on their faces. But without getting an answer.
“Come on!” He said, raising his arms. “I know you can do better. It is obvious that something is happening to Red.” He let out feeling his chest swell by the fact of having discovered it.
-Don't tell us genius! - was Vásquez's answer at his side.- How about you enlighten us, güerito -. The nickname coming out a little more affectionate than expected from an insult.
"Look ... He touched his food even less than usual." He said while pointing to the place that had been left empty. -Also it has been several days that I see him going around the edge of the mountains. Looking for something. He looks lost. And you know what that means right? - With a sigh of concern he dropped his shoulders
"I want to hear this ..." Billy said, approaching to whisper in Goodnight's ear, who answered only with a smile.
Faraday looked at the rest and released ...- He's sick! Fuck! A worried look on his face. -Surely he must be in pain and that's why he sighs so much ... Come on, his people are very close to nature and surely he must be looking for medicine in the vicinity and could not find it, maybe he needs help ... And you don't even realize his situation. I don't know what kind of friends you are- A clear tone of annoyance in his voice.
A shrill laugh filled the room.
Sam, not wanting to offend, laughed softly shaking his head but on his lips the laugh threatened to come out. Quite the opposite of Vasquez and Goodnight, the latter practically doubled over with laughter over Billy who shook his head with a laugh and a slight movement of his shoulders. Faraday looked at his companions with a face that didn't even understand shit. Only Horne seemed to have a little sympathy for him but he did not escape the hurt look of Faraday who realized that he was trying to cover his laughter with the bible that he used to carry with him. Failing because the corners of his eyes gave him away.
-“The best lover in the world, my balls!"- Vasquez yelled without a little compassion and not caring that Faraday's face was beginning to show signs of annoyance.
"They know ... they are all idiots," Faraday growled, hitting the table and standing up as the chair dragged across the floor. -I care about one of ours and you make fun of us. Idiots! - Annoyance was present in his voice now. With a thump on the table he turned to leave but a firm hand on his arm stopped him.
-Come güero , do not be angry - Vasquez had a firm grip and forced him to sit. Faraday slumped reluctantly in the chair. With his hand still firmly anchored to Faraday's arm, he brought the other to his face to wipe away a funny tear that escaped from the corner of his eye. "It's just that you took us by surprise." The observation was good, but the conclusion Tsk! ... that is not so good ...- accompanied his words with a shake of his head.
-Of course it's not good, it's Terrible!- Says Goodnight who had finally finished laughing, but still with amusement in his voice.
-No, it is not good at all, although we must value the effort and concern you have put into it. - Sam stated calmly and giving support to Faraday.- Red is not sick ... he is afflicted by something else.-
Faraday had calmed down and was listening intently from the other side of the table, with Vasquez's hand still on his arm, which now draws small circles with his thumb on Faraday's skin.
-Another thing? I-I don't understand ...- His face was a true reflection of his feelings. A silence accompanied his words. The eyes of his companions looked at him somewhat impressed, they knew he was serious. Perhaps love had been elusive with him.
-Oh güero ..-. A melancholic note in his voice crept almost unnoticed. -Red is only ... mmm you know.- Vasquez gestured with his hands ... -Pursuing a skirt.- he said with a shrug.
"Or it could be a pair of pants ..." Goodnight added with a mischievous smile and eyes on Billy. Even in the dim light Faraday could see a slight blush on Billy's cheeks.
Sam cleared his throat to get Faraday to look at him again. -What Vásquez wants to say is that Red is most likely in love. Or at least interested in someone.-
-But then why the hell does it look like a kicked dog? I say he is attractive ...- Faraday's voice was lost after the strong Mexican accent of Vásquez who almost broke his neck when looking at Joshua and reproaching his statement.
"What do you mean, attractive ...?" He spat, a little louder than necessary. But Faraday didn't seem to hear it and continued.
-... besides he's practically a hero in this town. Most likely, women will fight over it. Offers have rained down on me. - A confused tone in his voice.
"Yes, of course ..." Vasquez spluttered angrily, bringing a glass to his mouth. The liquid now tasted bad.
"Well it's not always that easy, sometimes it doesn't matter what you do if not who you are or rather where you come from ... even after what you've done he’s still a Comanche," Horne stated. Everyone's heads turned to look at the man who had remained silent until now.
-So is. She may simply not like or have reservations about the provenance of our friend Red.- I clarify Chisolm.
"Or maybe our dear friend is very shy and doesn't know how to approach white people," Goodnight said. -Your opinion, Mon Cher , you are more versed than us in fighting against prejudice and lack of understanding. Perhaps our friend will find our customs a little strange. Because you do not share your experience with us. - The glances passed from Goody and settled on Billy.
Billy settled into his chair and seemed to think about it for a moment. -Well, when I got here, I was struck by the procession of courtship. I often saw men carry flowers and gifts to women while passing through a city, I saw them walking arm in arm and laughing ... I just did not understand. I mean, where I come from you just marry who your parents choose. There are even those who are committed at birth, usually they are families who live far apart and you only see the other when they are in front of the priest. At other times, if you are lucky, you can meet and fall in love with who your partner will be. But you can also be unfortunate and be delivered to pay off a debt and you just have to wait for a good husband to touch you. ”He leaned back in the chair and raised his shoulders. -It's just a matter of luck. But this is where I come from. I don't know how it will be where Red comes from.-
Goodnight remained silent, letting the story settle on him. He looked at Sam questioningly who quickly understood the question. “I am not aware of how Comanche romantic relationships work. Hopefully I speak a little of their language. And I do not know in which instance you could ask about the love relationships of your tribe.”
-Then you suppose that our friend Red does not know how to approach this damsel. Am I wrong, Cher ? - Goody questioned without looking at Billy.
"It's an option," Billy replied without much concern.
The comfortable silence and acceptance of what they had discussed under them. A consensus that it was better to stay out of it. Well, almost everyone accepted it.
A loud clap broke the silence. "Then we already know what to do," Faraday declared. -We must advise our good friend so that he can solve his heartache. That will be really simple.- Faraday seemed genuinely excited as he rubbed his hands with a smile on his lips
-Ha! That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. At least coming from someone who mistakes being in love for a stomach ache. You would not know what to say to a woman throwing herself into your arms, güero. - Vásquez's retaliation peaked a little more than expected and did not help the fact that it was accompanied by the assent of those around the table.
Everyone except Faraday seemed to know that they shouldn't stick their noses in this matter. Neither was very happy with the idea of ending up with a Comanche arrow in their butt.
“You don't know anything. I bet you a bottle of good whiskey that any of you could not give you better advice than me.”
An interested gaze crossed the faces that lined the table. After all, there is only a certain amount of monotony that men accustomed to the road could bear without going mad. And this little challenge ignited a spark. A little fun wouldn't hurt.
The competitive vein activated in several of those around the table. But none claimed to be inside.
-Let's go! Who accepts the deal ... If you do not do it for the good liquor at least do it for our dear Red. Do not tell me that you are all talk and no action. Where were the experts in heart problems? What do you say texican?
- Damn it, guero , I have already told you that there are no Texicans ! I am a charming and very attractive Mexican- he said in response sounding annoyed and highlighting his origin, but his face showed no sign of it. "And so you can see that I'm right, I'll give you a taste of the Mexican charm." He just raised Faraday's hand to his lips and placed a kiss on it. "A Texan will never be a rival to me." He winked at Faraday who began to feel the heat rise to his face. The laughter that followed this statement did not help at all.
-You are an idiot ...- he said to Vásquez while he cradled his hand tightly against his chest in which he still burned the sensation on Vásquez's lips. He only felt the color of his face increase when he saw the cheeky smile that came from the Mexican.
This morning Rose Creek seemed calmer than it had been for the past month, the calm and quiet streets showing that the repair work was almost done and the inhabitants gradually returned to their routines, before the appearance of Bartholomew Bouge.
Red was probing the men who had already started their daily chores from the porch of one of the buildings left behind by the villagers who had preferred to flee rather than fight and who now made rooms for the seven of them. He didn't blame them. Even he, at some point in the battle, thought they would not make it, he knew for sure that the thought had crossed the minds of all who had stayed to fight. Even with everything against him, he had stayed to fight and did not regret it, if he had not, he could not have found her, a sigh came from his lips, if only he could get close enough to touch her ...
-Red! - A voice calling his name dragged him from his reverie ,,, he blinked a couple of times and looked at Vasquez who seemed amused apparently had called him several times. "Nice view?" He declared as he tilted his head in the direction of some young women who were talking on the other side of the street and watching them whispering.
-Ehhh ,,, - Red did not understand what he was referring to, so he preferred silence. By order of the tribe elders, he had had to learn the language of the whites, although he was not sure that he understood most of what they said. Hell, he wasn't even sure he wanted to.
-You know- Vasquez interrupted- although it seems difficult to talk to the women, it's not that complicated, you know ... they ...- He was silent, he seemed to think about his next statement while his hands continued to roll in the air. -You know, they are, they are ...- I doubt. Dropping his hands to his sides, his fingers brushed against one of his pistols. And a strange look crossed his eyes. -They're like pistols! Yes- He seemed pleased with what was said -you should approach them as you would a gun. You must do it safely but also with respect and take them firm so that you can orient and guide the movements, but when you touch the trigger you must do it gently since you do not want to shoot sooner than necessary- He glanced at Red and surely saw the confusion in his face 'so you must think what you will say that but that scares you. You know how the process is. ”He seemed satisfied with his statement, his chest puffed up with pride. He quickly deflated when he heard the Comanche's response.
-But I use arrows ...- Red replied with a flat tone that told him that he had not understood anything of what Vásquez had said, who dropped his head heavily. Apparently the comparison had not been adequate.
Before Vasquez could speak, Red was already standing with his thumb pointed toward the church.
"I must go check some things." And without more he turned around and left.
Vasquez was still open-mouthed at his attempt to speak when he saw Faraday appear, one eyebrow raised and clapping mockingly walking towards him.
-I never thought to see the Mexican charm in action so soon- His face marked with delight. "Now I know that you are a full- blown Texan," he said as he walked past him and patted his shoulder to lose himself inside the building.
That had been strange, he told himself as he walked toward the church. What did a woman have to do with a gun? Perhaps Red had not grasped the correct meaning of what was said. In itself it was already difficult, both men had a mother tongue other than English. Added to the fact that Vásquez was Mexican, and therefore a culture even more different than that of the white man, it further complicated the communication or the meaning behind his words.
Making a mental note to ask Sam about what had happened he was looking for Horne with whom they had agreed to help the preacher move some furniture in the restored church. Although the two men literally belonged on opposite sides, they had been in a kind of comfortable company lately. Surely fighting shoulder to shoulder helped form the feeling of respect for another. They didn't use to talk much and they worked efficiently, the fact that Horne didn't seem to look at his scalp anymore helped a lot. They were very good co-workers, so when Horne asked for help working in the church he volunteered.
When they were halfway there with the work in the Horne church, in that particular tone that he had recited;
"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a suitable helper."
And that was all that came out of his mouth before going back to work as if nothing had happened. And Red let him go. He did not know what the declaration was due to, and he simply preferred not to ask, he did not understand the scope of the religion that this man professed, in addition to being an important factor in the enmity of his peoples.
After a light lunch he headed towards the stables, his horse was calling for care and brushing his foal relaxed him. As he slid the brush down Dulce Luna's side a noise caught his attention, he cocked his head trying to hear better and the sound returned to him, it seemed to be a low moan and a little sore. It came straight from the back of the stable, he thought, perhaps, and someone might be in need of help. Surrounding the building, he found the source of the moans in the form of a very flushed Goodnight Robicheaux. He was caught between Billy's body and the peeling planks that made up the stable wall, his head was leaning against the wall and his eyes were half-closed blinded by the apparent pleasure that Billy was causing him, his hair disheveled, his shirt unbuttoned and his mouth was obscenely open, red and swollen. His hands were clasped above his head. Billy's steady hand kept him pinned there as his legs seemed to want to buckle under his weight. Billy on his neck, kissing and biting the skin that would surely later cover the clothes.
He seemed to whisper something between each touch of his lips, drawing sighs and slight groans from his lover, his gloved hand slid down Goodnight's chest, a deep moan filled the air as his fingers brushed against a nipple, with a slow movement their bodies met. Grinding his hips together, Billy tucked one leg between Goody's thighs pressing against his groin, rubbing what appeared to be a very painful erection, a sharp exhalation coming from his lips. A heavy air of lust enveloped them. - Ahhh! Mon Amour you're killing me here ... Kiss me Cher, Please ...- Goody's plea, sweet in Billy's ears. -I'm to please you… - and it was through Goodnight's mouth pure desire springing from them. He intended to quietly withdraw and let the men finish their affairs. One foot and then the other, slowly. An indiscreet branch and froze in place. He knew it had only been a small branch but in the silence that surrounded them perfectly it could have been an entire forest that collapsed under his foot. He squeezed his eyes shut, and the memory of that time he saw a branch give way under the weight of a bear cub too big to be fooling around in, ran through his mind. The sound of the body colliding with the forest floor now echoed in his ears and landed on his chest.
His eyes widened even more in amazement when he saw Billy in a single fluid movement turn on himself, his hand reaching the hairpin of his hair as he pushed Goodnight behind him. Standing like a shield between the intruder and the other man. His eyes riveted on hers and her breathing hitched. Something deep inside Red told him not to move or it could make things worse. The recognition crossed Billy's face but he still didn't seem to relax. Surely if it wasn't for the fact that they had fought together Red would already be dead, pierced by the hairpin Billy held between his fingers. That was for sure.
He understood Billy's reaction, Red himself was no stranger to the relationship the two men shared, in fact he couldn't care less. But he knew perfectly well that it wasn't like the rest of the world saw that kind of closeness.
Unlike white people, Red had repeatedly met same-sex lovers while exploring the grounds of his tribe. He used to see them sharing kisses and caresses in the intimacy of the solitude that they thought surrounded them. It wasn't his problem or anyone else's. So when he met the men in front of him he knew at once that they shared the same kind of relationship as those who used to get lost in the woods, seeking privacy to unleash their passions.
But Billy didn't know this. So he preferred caution, Billy looked like an animal waiting for a signal to attack, he would defend what he loved, what the white men condemned without understanding.
Calmly and raising his hands in a sign of peace he said; “I heard a noise, I did not want to disturb." His voice was soft, showing the greatest calm and sympathy possible. Surely the understanding he tried to show on his face was captured as Goodnight put a reassuring hand on Billy's shoulder. Fixing his clothes as best he could with his free hand, he got down to Billy's level and calmly began to speak in a sweet way with what seemed to want to calm Billy's breaths and bring him to a less exalted pace.
-Oh come on Cher! Lower that, do not be disrespectful to our friend here, it is obvious that this is nothing but a misfortune, also due to the great lack of confusion on the face of our companion in battle, I would dare to say that it is not the first time that he stumbles with a scene of this nature. Am I wrong?-
Red who had lowered his hands nodded affirmatively. And tentatively added; "What you do is your problem, not mine."
It didn't get lost as Goodnight's hand had never left Billy's body and was now rubbing soft circles over the shirt of the Asian man, who had already loosened the grip on his hairpin and seemed considerably more relaxed than just a few seconds ago.
"Well that relieves us, thanks," Goodnight replied with a smile. -That being said, I think the best we can do is go back to our work. Billy? ...- With a slight bow he urged him to go first. When he had already advanced a few steps, Goodnight started.
Red felt his words come out before he even thought about them. "May I ask something?" His voice sounded unsure as he looked at Billy who had turned in unison with Goodnight and although he looked more relaxed now he still seemed like a threat to consider. Apparently Goodnight noticed this on Red's face and turned to his lover.
-Billy ... Cher, could you go get some water for me? Our recent activities have left me thirsty ... - a cheeky smile accompanies your request. -Ufff and this leg that doesn't want to cooperate yet.- He rubbed his right leg to make a point. Billy raised an eyebrow clearly not believing the exaggeration but still ended up accepting silently with a sigh. Before Billy whirled around, Goodnight took his arm and cradled his face with one hand and placed a soft kiss on the other man's lips. - Merci, Mon Cher - he whispered even with his lips close. And if it wasn't for Red knowing that his eyesight was working perfectly he would have doubted his eyes that picked up the slight blush that ran up Billy's cheeks.
Without Billy watching he felt lighter, less reserved.
-Well my friend, what can this old man do for you?- Goodnight's voice was relaxed as was his posture. -Although I warn you, if you want details of what you just saw, I will be very specific with the details, until I manage to get a blush from you-
"No!" Was Red's half-yelled response. He had never been shy about such matters, but still didn't want to know more details than he already saw. "Details are not necessary," an apologetic tone in his voice. A laugh came from Goodnight who seemed amused at his reaction.
I get it. Now that I know that we are not of interest to you. Tell me what you want to know?
-Well, that's not quite right. It's about Billy. ”Goodnight raised a questioning eyebrow. The protective feeling seemed to be very strong. "Nothing that can hurt," he clarified. "I, mmm, I want to know how you did it, about a moment ago." A mischievous smile spread over Goody's face and Red knew immediately what he was thinking. "No, I'm not asking how you ended up kissing Billy."
Goodnight looked with a clear lack of understanding and Red sighed, he didn't want to make the comparison but it was really inevitable.
-When I surprised them, Billy ... he seemed really ready to rip my head off ...- He laughed without a bit of joy, it had been really dangerous. -He looked like a wild animal, one willing to protect you no matter if he dies in the process. I don't blame him for reacting like that, I think it was a very bad moment to interrupt, but when you spoke to him ... it was like magic, do you understand? Your touch calmed him and he allowed himself to relax, he didn't even startle, he knew he could trust in you.
Goodnight was amazed at how many words the Comanche had said. I had never heard him speak more than a couple of sentences here and there but he was even more surprised to share the comparison this had made about Billy. Yes, Billy had a rough and wild side which had deeply captured Goody's attention the first that had laid eyes on the man. He still remembered comparing him to a cougar, fast, agile and really lethal, while he saw him standing in the middle of the bar surrounded by unconscious bodies at his feet, and without knowing it he had ended up giving in to the absurd impulse to seek closeness. He knew very well that if he was wrong he would end up devoured and God damn him if that had not seemed a nice idea.
"It's an interesting comparison," Goody mused. -You know, I did exactly the same when I saw Billy the first time. He looked like a wild animal, ready to bury its teeth in my throat and tear it apart. Even after accepting our association, he always remained alert when I was around him, waiting ... What ? I didn't know until later. - He could hear the melancholic tone in his voice. -I saw myself as a threat. As ridiculous as it sounds. He could have kicked my butt without problem at any time. For my part, all I wanted was to get close, I longed to touch him ... I intentionally ignored the discomfort I caused in Billy, just because of the selfishness of having him around.” He raised his face to heaven, seeming to recall some kind of nostalgic feeling. “The only thing I could get out of approaching him against his will was to push him away, widening the gap between us. He was very stubborn in those times.- A half-sided smile on his face and a touch of self-recrimination in his voice. -Until one day I understood. If I imposed my presence on his life it would only make Billy want to run away. I had to stop trying. Give it your space and earn your trust; If I wanted Billy around, I had to let him come to me, so he looked for my company. Billy was not like the rest of the people I had met. He carried on his shoulders the damage that surely had caused him to distrust more than others.- Goodnight was silent. At his side, Red integrated every word into his being. Goodnight's account contained a truth that he had not been able to glimpse from the momentum and desire that covered him when he was around.
The sound of footsteps made them turn. Billy walked with a relaxed step and a canteen in his hands. "Here," Billy said, lifting the bottle to hand it to Goody who received it with a big smile on his face. -Ahhh! I could not survive without you, my precious Billy ... - he blurted out with great sincerity.
- That's what you say now, but I still remember the time you left me for a week in Rouge City and you left who knows where. - Billy returned crossing his arms on his chest and with a tone of reproach but Red clearly saw the mockery of the man in his eyes.
"You know that was an exception and I made up for it by bringing that tea that you liked so much." Goodnight's gaze was sweet, he could see the many feelings that ran under him. Surely the path to reach this point would have been long and winding. But apparently it was worth a lot.
Red was intruding on the intimacy that surrounded them. - Well ... I better get back to my horse. I'm sorry I interrupted a little while ago. - Without looking at the couple he started walking, stopped just a few steps when he looked at Goodnight and with a nod he snapped. "Thank you very much." And without further ado, he made his way back to the stable where he had abandoned the care of his horse in search of helping someone who did not need help.
Dinner was quiet, white food still tasted strange on his palate, the flavors were heavy on his tongue, and the smell made him think of all the times he wasted eating Pemmikan . They all seemed to talk about unimportant things. He preferred to hear, save the stories and then get something out of them. As he had done with Goodnight’s story. His gaze crossed the table and landed on the two men who now shared a cigarette in silence, leaning on each other radiating comfort. A feeling of longing settled on his chest. He wanted it for him. To be able to touch the object of his admiration and desire, his feet wanted to run in search of her. But he must stand firm and follow the plan he had laid out in his mind. Give her space and get her to come to him. As Goodnight had done with Billy. He would form a bond like the one in front of him.
“Wait, wait, wait ... space, space, space ," he repeated constantly in his mind, he needed the words and their meaning to sink into his head, if he did it well the reward would be enormous.
A scream from Faraday caught his attention, the man was a force of nature, even after the incredible damage he had suffered, he oozed energy. He clearly remembered that as soon as he had awakened after several days of being consumed in the fever, he had become involved in an argument with Vázquez, who had stayed by his side for long hours each day, even offering to take care of him for the night. He remembered the discussion since Vásquez had released a large number of curses that he said to Faraday in Spanish, all because the man insisted on wanting to get up and drink some Whiskey claiming that there was no better way to heal the wounds than by drinking alcohol. . - All the doctors of the world know it, Vásquez. Healing from the inside is the best ... - he had said with a big smile and wanting to reach Goodnight's flask that landed on the back of the bed next to him. He was only stopped by Sam who was entering at that time accompanied by Dr. Cole who with a refusal of his head had made it very clear that drinking alcohol when he was in recovery was not beneficial at all.
-Hey! Hey! Red! - A hand moved in front of his face, apparently he had sunk back into his thoughts and had called Faraday's attention -What's wrong brother? Something that worries you? - Although his tone was cheerful, he could see on Joshua's face that the question was real. -Maybe it's not something that worries you, but rather someone? - He suggested with a raise of his eyebrows -You know that you can count on me to give you some advice. You know I am ...-
-Here we go with that again ... the best lover in the world! - Vasquez said, rolling his eyes.
-Shut up! Do not be intrusive, also that was not what I was going to say. Other than that I've only said it once. The rest of the time it is you who will not let it be ... - was Faraday's response to Vásquez with a blow to his arm, before adding ... -Also, it will always be better than advice on pistols ... the tone as in the gambler's face and the satisfaction that overwhelmed him when he saw the Mexican drowning with his drink. "But that is the subject for another conversation." He turned his attention to Red. "As my dear Comanche told you, you know that I am very good LIS-TEN-ING ..." He emphasized the last word.
-And speaking ... - That was Vásquez protesting under his breath, but he only got an eye roll in response.
-So you know, if you need help with that heart- he made a sound with his tongue and simulated shooting at Red's chest -Just ask-
Red’s face was blank with confusion… He looked at Sam for clarity but only received a shrug in response. He did not understand why he would have to have heart problems, everything would be fine with him as long as he was whole, without any bullet or arrow going through him. He did not want to insult Faraday and tell him that he had not understood. So with a nod, he gave him a scrawny thanks.
During the morning he had lost himself around the limits of the town, moving away from strange and meaningless conversations for him. He kicked off the first steps of his plan and only came back around noon when he noticed that his company was becoming a bit offended. Perhaps it had tired her because she began to be angry.
The air was dry , only a slight breeze blowing through the almost fully repaired buildings. Every day the people got closer to recovering their former glory. He had sat on the porch focused on making arrows. His supplies had been depleted during the battle and although he had been able to retrieve several of them he would prefer not to use them for hunting. The arrows had energy, he preferred to avoid having contact with the meat from which they will feed . And with nothing more to do, he set about resupplying them. He looked at his small arsenal. It carried only four arrows, but they were perfect and functional; two with metal tips and two with carved stone tips. He liked how it was so far. Footsteps on the front steps made him lift his face. He was almost blinded by Faraday's easy smile. A chill ran down his spine. He said nothing, only acknowledging the presence of the other man with a movement of his head and looking away. He didn't want to start a conversation. He was not a great conversationalist. Totally opposite to Faraday, who seemed to have a great facility for it. He couldn't help a dejected sigh when the man started to speak. Friendly tone in your voice.
-Women are a wonderful thing, don't you think?- He started with a dreamy look on his face. -Although they are something to be afraid of when they want it.- The latter with his gaze fixed on Emma Cullen who crossed the street only one block below.
-You know, I met a really beautiful girl once while I was passing through Black Creek, it was a small town, with calm and mostly decent people, this was south on the New Mexico border.- He explained.- She lived on a farm just outside the town, and, like you, was not very good at talking. She was the shy type, or so I thought. ”A playful smile flooded his face. -maybe it was partly due to the fact that she spoke Spanish better than English. It took me several days for her to speak to me, although most of it was only Spanish. ”He shook his head negatively. -Aaaargh brother! When she spoke his lips moved in such a way that they invited you to kiss them. Although that was not the only thing they invited you to.” With moving eyebrows and a suggestive look on his face. "I will not lie to you my friend, I did not understand a shit of what she said, but it would be very screwed if I do not recognize that even now just by remembering her accent I go crazy." He smiled and his eyes closed, surely reaching the memory in his memory. -When she spoke his voice was melodic and with that tendency to speak in a chant ... It is indescribable. It's like ... like ...
He didn't seem to be able to reach the correct comparison when Red who so far seemed not to have been listening added ...
-Like Vazquez's accent ?- he questioned.
YEEES...! The instant response was more a long sigh, tinged with desire and longing than a strictly objective response. -Than! No! Wait ... What ? - Faraday's face was passing quickly through various shades from pale pink to an angry red. His tongue seemed to have stopped and he couldn't articulate a word.
It was the worst or the best time, depending on who was watching, for the Mexican to appear around the corner of the building. His face divided by a big smile and mischievous eyes , offered knowledge of what was spoken a moment ago and Red assumed that he had not walked alone by chance just at that moment. He had noticed before the man's fondness for smoking around the building between light and shadow. Looking around, always attentive and analyzing the rest. He remembered that he was a wanted man and there was even a reward on his head. You wouldn't be surprised if the man had been listening in on the conversation just now. Faraday remained silent beside him. Whenever the men crossed paths, word exchanges and insults began at random. What he had noticed were becoming less serious and more like some kind of talk to them.
-What happens güero? ¿Te comió la lengua el gato? Her voice sounded even lower and hoarse when using Spanish. As he approached Faraday without losing eye contact, a predatory half smile gripped his lips. He clearly saw how a tremor ran through Faraday's body. The man looked at him in silence and even red as a beet.
Red felt he was missing something but at the same time the atmosphere surrounding Vásquez and Faraday was not entirely unknown to him. The voice in his head telling him not to be here seemed to have crossed his mind before. He tried to place his finger on the memory of where he had seen such a situation but it escaped him .
Faraday did not seem to remember how to speak and Vásquez was still staring at him, both wrapped in a bubble that could explode at the slightest stimulus . Even so, they didn't even notice when Red took his tools and turned to cross the threshold into his now shared house, The conversation with Faraday abandoned.
As he entered, his gaze fell on the corner of the room where Sam was sitting at a table, he seemed to look into nothing. It was not a lost gaze but rather a gaze that harbored no greater concerns. Before he knew it he was walking towards Sam, it was comfortable being able to sit next to the man. A fatherly smile upon seeing him. Silence with Sam was one of the best; without discomfort. He relaxed by having the man by his side and to his fortune Sam was not as chatty as Faraday and Goodnight or to a lesser extent as Vasquez. He talked more than Billy, which was good too. Sam was one of those men who knew when to speak and when silence was the best option. They stayed like that for a few seconds until the increase in the volume of the voices coming from the doors of the room found its way to the interior of the premises. Goodbye to pleasant silence and comfort.
A dramatic door opening and a very vocal Faraday entered like a hurricane. Screaming threats and promising a painful death to a Vásquez who followed him like a puppy. His face looked amused even when Faraday yelled at him not to follow him as he took the steps to the second floor. Vasquez watched him climb the stairs with his eyes fixed on what appeared to be ... Joshua Faraday's butt? When the first one reached the top of the stairs and got lost in the hallway, an excited Vásquez started with a jump and took the steps two by two.
When his eyes met Sam's he could see the implicit question in them…
"I don't know what happened to them ..." he said with a nod of his head to where the men had gotten lost. -To be honest they have been acting a little strange, those two more than anyone, I thought it was something of them but even Horne said things that do not make sense to me.
-Horne? Now that itself is strange - Sam's voice was quiet, only tinged with a little curiosity.
-Tell me. While we were in church he said something like that man should not be alone ... I don't remember it well. Vasquez on the other hand began by talking about women and then about pistols. That according to him they were the same or I don't know what. Faraday has said things that he is concerned about problems with my heart, which works quite well. He even shot me with his fingers ... - his head moved from one place to another as if trying to put his ideas in order. -Even now while doing some arrows, Faraday came and started talking about a girl who spoke like Vásquez and who did something with her mouth ... and I really don't know what all that talk was about out there until Vásquez came and said something in Spanish that made Faraday finally shut up ... - a note of astonishment in his voice and he even saw Sam's eyebrows rise in surprise and added . 'I wonder what 's what he said because I do not speak a pinch of Spainish.- He took a big breath and surprised each other himself with the lot of words that had come loose at once. Definitely being around talkative people was doing him wrong. If he continued like this he was sure that he would end up finding the Whiskey in good taste and would end up at a table with Goodnight and Faraday to talk until they were old.
"I think I know what it's all about…" Sam laughed and shook his head in amusement. "And I think it's all Faraday's fault." Red raised a questioning eyebrow. -He did not do it with bad intention, I assure you. Only the man is sometimes too enthusiastic when an idea gets into his head. That is all. Well that and the fact that he was a little worried. - Red did not answer but his face showed the desire for Sam to explain himself and this did not make him wait.
Sam told Red about the great investigation that Faraday had done, as well as how he had horribly erred in the conclusion that it was what afflicted Red. And how after hearing what could really be afflicting the man he had not come down arms and looked for a way to come to his aid. He wanted to help. Even going as far as gambling to capture the interest of others and make them cooperate.
-That was how all this started , he thought you were in love and that you were not reciprocated or did not know how to face the girl. He asked for advice and I think they all just wanted to help- A warmth spread across Red's chest.
He knew he was a Comanche, and assumed that the rest saw him the same way. He was an Indian, not a white man, even after the battle he did not think that their minds had changed, He understood that the lack of conversation towards him was not due to lack of interest, as he assumed, but rather it was with the intention of not disturbing or inconveniencing. He remembered now how his place at the table was always free, even when more people joined them for lunch. Since they used to not eat until he got home from a round. Even he was part of the rite of waiting for the one who was missing. He hadn't realized it, but he belonged here, as each of them did. Their ways were different and he thought that separated them but it was not like that. It was what really brought them together. Different paths that flowed to meet. He was sorry he wasn't more open with what bothered him. But he was sure he could make up for it. He would ask for their advice and listen to it. Maybe he would do it today at dinner. He wanted to show that they were important to him, too. As apparently he was to them.
"I think you should talk to them, if you expect them to stop. Although I don't think they will listen to you, at least Faraday will not- Sam seemed uncertain when saying this, he surely hoped that Red would not follow his advice and drive away the enthusiastic helpers. "They consider you part of this." He moved a hand wrapping something that was not there to be touched and Red understood.
Red said nothing. He sat quietly. And he thanked Sam with a shake of his head. A thought crossed his mind quickly. He looked out the window and saw the sun overhead. He calculated the hours of light still available. He got up from the seat and took his new arrows. He would give them a very good first use. He looked at Sam who returned his gaze in silence - Could you take everyone to the clearing what is happening on the hill ?, one hour after sunset.-
-Take it for granted, do you need something?
"Whiskey, bring some bottles." A smile spread across Sam's face.
He could hear them long before he could see them. Faraday's strong voice along with Vásquez's insults and the laughter of the others were something that warmed his heart.
-Hey! How 's our little Red? " A good hug from Goodnight accompanied the greeting." You had us worried, you disappeared after lunch and Horne said you didn't get to help him with the church altar. We thought and you had abandoned us without saying goodbye when you didn't get to dinner. ”Goodnight seemed to be mocking but was frowning a little.
-Yes, you had worried us; the güero was already organizing a search team. According to him, a tiger could have eaten you. He only calmed down when Billy assured him that there were no tigers near Rose Creek. And Sam I assure you that you were not gone, at least you would not leave without saying goodbye.-
The jokes about his departure were nothing more than a game, but it made him think of all those times that the idea of leaving without saying anything had crossed his mind. Always thinking that no one would notice his absence until he was far away.
-Well, I assume this beautiful deer is the reason for our reunion.- Sam looked at the meat he had been roasting for a while. -And I must add that it smells really good.- They all shook their heads in approval.
The meal was accompanied by stories about the exploits and adventures. They sat in a circle around the campfire so everyone could easily look at the rest. Goodnight sang softly, the lyrics of the songs mixed in a nice way with the voices of others. The man had a good voice.
The whiskey and meat ran free, the jokes flowed and the laughter was constant. The feeling of belonging took hold more strongly in Red's chest. He used to actively participate in the gatherings and festivities of the tribe but never felt so much a part of something like now.
He lamented a little when he noticed that the whiskey had loosened the language of his companions even more and the former reservation of making him speak flew out the metaphorical window at this moment, more and more questions were directed in his direction. Even Horne had been dragged to drink more than their usual custom and although the man was quite large might notice that excessive drinking was not common in everyday life. His voice sounded even higher and tended to tangle with the words.
-I never thought that I would become a friend of a Comanche, but the ways of the Lord are mysterious. And as a good man of God I accept what he sends to enrich my days. Now I just hope that my friend here- A huge hand fell on his back, leaving behind a bite of pain. -Find a good woman to take care of you, as my beautiful Stella did with me.- Horne never spoke about his late wife and now he could understand why, the pain of loss was clear in his voice.
-Sure! A good woman who manages to spend the nights in a bed. - An accusing finger rose in his direction.- Don't think I haven't noticed how you sneak off to sleep outside.- It was the accusation of a very happy Goodnight.
A loud chuckle from Billy made him turn his head. "Come on Goody, you couldn't notice a train passing you. If it wasn't because I told you, you wouldn't even be taking it out now. ”He leaned forward and as if it were a secret, he added . -Always sleep like a log. And he snores so much that I can't get a wink, not to mention that he keeps all the blankets on the bed and leaves me shaking. Thank goodness and the cold has not come or he would have already died frozen.-
Surely it was the alcohol that had gotten Billy to give away that little bit of his privacy. No one seemed to care too much about the confirmation that both men shared a bed. But surely everyone already knew the true nature of their relationship.
-You think he is a heavy sleeper, you should see Vasquez. Mexicans do not seem to know the concept of being alert during sleep. Once it rolls on its side there is no one to wake him up. He snores like a damn bear. - That was new for Red. Why did Joshua know about Vásquez's ways of sleeping? As far as he knew, the building they used as a bedroom had enough rooms for everyone to have their own. And in fact he himself saw when the rooms had been assigned and clearly the men had taken one for each. A sudden clarity about their relationship hit him as hard as the blow Faraday received to the head. But something told him that they were still dancing about whatever was forming between them.
-No seas bocòn, güero! - It was the rebuke that came from Vásquez who seemed to forget English every so often or ended up mixing it with Spanish. "You also think I haven't heard your babble." He loves to talk asleep as well as awake.-
"I don't sleep talk!" But Faraday had no defense other than that. Vasquez took his chin and whispered on his face. -You do it, all the time, guapo. And I must say that your dreams are at least very interesting.- He winked and threw a kiss in the air.
Laughter erupted and calm settled as they gradually diminished in intensity. They were a strange group. But he felt confident, everyone seemed to be sharing pieces of life, but they were intimate pieces.
-When Emma Cullen came to me and named Bogue, I decided that I would do whatever it took to destroy him. Even if I died trying. ”The atmosphere became solemn at the declaration. -He killed my family. My mother and my sisters were struck by his cruelty and I could not help them.- There was pain in Sam's words, but not recrimination, surely the years had achieved an acceptance of what happened, Sam was young when it happened, not to mention that Bogue had an army. There was not much he could have done. - I swore revenge, but never looked for it, so when the opportunity presented itself I took it without hesitation. I didn't think that decision would lead me to meet them or to meet you again. Goody.- A nod in the direction of the man. - You are men whom I respect, I see you and I find in you something more than weapons of payment. Now you are part of my life, I hope to be part of yours.- He raised his glass in a silent toast . -For friends, family and love. Let them be eternal.- Everyone raised their glasses and emptied them.
Red was thinking about how to start the conversation he had already gone through in his head. Sam must have noticed his indecision and opened a window for him.
-Now I think it's time for you to share more than meat with us. That is not why we are here. Give us the solution to our doubts. What is it that steals your breath and keeps you on your toes.- He looked around and saw that everyone was waiting. Curiosity in their looks. "We all know that it is not a stomach ache that afflicts you." He let out the atmosphere to give way under the laughter. Sigh, it was now or never.
-I know what you've been doing. There was no reproach in his voice. -And I don't know how to feel about it. I only know that I'm glad I have someone who cares about me. ”A sweet smile appeared on his face. A sweet boy who knew it was important.
Everyone's heart seemed to fill with tenderness. They had inadvertently built something. And they saw the fruits of it on the face of the youngest. Cultures and customs were varied, as they have , but each had felt like the claws of loneliness cold trickled into his inside . It warmed their hearts to know that they were driving loneliness away from Red's heart.
-I'm sorry I didn't notice before. But how did you notice, my mind was elsewhere.- He seemed to be a little embarrassed. -Sure and you know what I mean. I've found something wonderful. ”A smile spread across the fire-lit faces and the expectant gaze gave him confidence. -She is very special…-
-¡I told you Robicheaux! - Faraday is pus or standing with a jump. -It's a woman who steals the air from our little friend. So pay… -
- I would not be so trusting Faraday. Why don't you let his story end. And we will see who owes whom.- A nod towards Red to continue.
-I saw her at the same time that the moon began to decrease. It was night, she was camping on the outskirts. - He pointed north, where a rocky mass with small black spots stood, only illuminated by the moonlight. - From the darkness he appeared. And although it was only for an instant I could see how majestic and haughty she was, curious by nature. I never thought that such beauty existed ... My heart was filled .- He raised his head to heaven.
-The elders of the tribe used to talk about it. A single encounter and their hearts were filled and the doubts disappear . Many Comanches longed for the encounter, but few had it. And only the elderly elders had managed to put their fingers on it.
Clarity pierced me when I was close, I understood that everything the elders said was true. My path really was different. The encounter with her was the reason why he had to leave the territorial limits. I thought finding her was the end of the road, that I could go back to the tribe. But the more I thought about going back, the loneliness grew in me . I thought that if I found her again and was closer to her, it would help me to get the feeling out of my soul. So I went back to the same place several times, I had already given up when I could see her in the distance. I followed her trail. And I could find her with her cubs. The old ones assure that touching it gives you clarity. So I started looking for a way to do it. I needed to get the feeling out of my chest. I started pushing things. Even when I saw that she didn't want me close, I kept insisting.- while looking at his hands he added . -I beat every bite. Until another encounter shed light on my mistakes.- Red's gaze fell on Billy and Goody! - by the way, thanks again- A soft laugh burst from his lips.
He looked around only to see Faraday's blank face . Vasquez seemed to be putting his ideas in order just like Horne and Sam seemed to be beginning to understand what it was all about. The only one who showed a bit of understanding was Goodnight who had a knowing smile on his face as he looked at Billy who slightly arched an eyebrow . Red still managed to decipher his features. Perhaps his explanation was strange. he felt very comfortable being surrounded by them. sometimes he even forgot that their cultures were different. –I think you didn't understand something. Or am I wrong?-
- No , no, no ... I did understand ... - Faraday said
- Don't lie, guero-
Ok . I understood everything well until the part where the elders had also touched her. I mean, unless you like an old woman and I'm not judging you, ages don't match. Perhaps Comanches prefer experience over firm curves. That along with the puppies and the bites. What is that? Do you like cannibals? Besides that you haven't even told us what she’s called. Or in what part of the people she lives. That is if someone was interested in going to take a look.
-Name? I don't see the reason why she has one. And if you want to see her, you should just go with me to her burrow. - Red's face was all sincerity, while the player's face went from confused to very confused. .
- Wait, wait. Does she live in a burrow? What is it? A rabbit. What kind of woman lives in a burrow.-
- None. Obviously Red is not talking about a person. If you give us an animal.- San seemed to have caught up with the conversation.
- What? -
-My people call it kaawosă, white people call it Coyote. And it's the best thing that can happen to a Comanche. They are guides . They have the power to foresee the future, in addition to bringing good fortune. -
- Wait! Are you talking about a coyote? A fucking coyote? - His face was flat; you could read disbelief in every faction. A laugh burst from his chest, so loud that even his head went back. -This has to be a joke. I say I always knew that we are a very strange group. But this only confirms it. Only you could fall in love with a wild animal -
- I am not in love with her. Red's tone clearly said that he found the man a bit more foolish than yesterday.
- I don't, güero . Don't be a beast. It is something more spiritual. Como a god or something. Or not?-
- That's right my texicano friend. If I remember correctly, it is quite common in the tribes that live in this very wide and varied country. I remember reading a book about it in my younger days , I also remember my father's scolding when he caught me reading it. It was not a very popular topic in my family. Conservative believers and fearful of God. -
Red wondered if he was still such a believer. As far as he knew the religion of man did not look favorably upon the refusal of the natives not to worship him, but Goodnight never looked at him strangely. Furthermore, Goodnight's relationship with Billy was even more damned. He doubted that Goody even kept faith at this point. Nothing in him said that he believed in more than the man next to him. He was totally contrary to the other men he had run into. His relationship with Sam was proof of that and although he had fought gray too, he apparently did not share the ideals of that side.
- Now I know that religion is only an excuse to bend the will of some and justify the atrocities of others. Not to mention that for some it dictates the way in which others should live, even those who should love. Goody's gaze was fixed on Billy as he said this. Love was certainly something mysterious - Although not all are like that. A clear example is our great bear over there. It is living proof that you can worship one god and respect others- Horne was nodding with his arms resting on his knees. The whiskey seemed to have passed the count. Apparently he's taken only the best from the bible.
-If it wasn't that way I wouldn't be sitting here. I'm sure his old job was influenced more by his abilities than by his faith. That was Sam always at the right time for his input. -He is a good man. So we went looking for him. -
They all nodded. They were not saints. Each of them had done things that they surely weren't proud of. But inside they always wanted to do things well.
- But I think we have strayed from our business here. So that's what got your attention. -
- Yeah They may not understand it but for us she is a guiding spirit. They deliver clarity. When I found her surrounded by her cubs I could understand why my path was different. That he had found something he didn't know he was looking for, much less had any idea of wanting it; A family, you . -
-When I heard your concerns for me, I understood that my path had not come to an end, but rather began to open, ready to be traveled. With you by my side, if you want me there . I know it sounded stupid but Even while I was accompanying you I felt that I did not belong.-
- Nothing further from the truth.- Sam again. Giving clarity.
-I know now. I can see that you are my tribe now. And that this is the place where I should be.- The words had the weight of a world. And each of them was willing to carry their share with joy.
- Then. And just to be safe. In the view of this coyote, what we are your family? But you couldn't see it until then.- The explanation rate in Faraday was slow. No matter how much we show how worried we are for you. Right? - Faraday looked practically offended. "Well that's a little too spiritual for me if you ask me." He snorted.
“The good thing is that nobody is asking you." Billy's statement sounded dry but there was a mocking tone in it.
Billy's sharp response seemed to be enough to end Faraday's questioning of Red . Within an hour he was arguing with Billy about his lack of tact , which only sparked the ridicule of others by reminding him that he was the least suited to accuse him of lack of tact, not after his always inconspicuous comments about Goodnight and Billy's relationship. or the little considered. that it had been in promoting their involvement in Red's affairs, and that he still had to pay for the bottle of good whiskey he had promised.
Every man who accompanied him was trusted. Each one had his respected cattle and not only for having fought together. Its real appreciation and respect he had obtained after the battle. With the days of company, concern and knowledge. They had managed to look under their own masks and see what they really were.
He had grown up assuming that his place in the world was with his tribe and when the elders told him that their path was different he felt truly lost and alone. He was amazed to learn that someone cared for him and thanked himself for being surrounded by good companions and friends whom he saw as his tribe now. Even if they were crazy.
Each had unique characteristics that made them so different and unlikely to fit together. But still they were next to each other. Trusting each other with their lives, their pasts and even their lives. Red knew that no matter where their paths led they would be all right as they would be together.