Jason was on his way to visit an old friend. Not your typical visit, but a visit into the past. When he arrived in Ruidoso he stopped at the Cantina to pick up a bottle of wine. As Jason entered the Cantina he dusted himself off.
He then walked up to the bartender "Buenos diaz amigo," said Jas. Then Jose the bartender greeted Jas with a cheery "Buenos diaz." He asked Jas if he has come far. "Sí.....far," said Jas. "What is your pleasure Señor.....food for your body or liquid for the soul?" Asked Jose. "First I want to get some water for this," said Jas as he pulled a rose from a case. Jose was pleasantly surprise and remarked in Spanish what a beautiful rose it was. Jas laid the rose on the paper that he had it wrapped in and Jose poured water onto the paper. "Now I'd like a bottle of wine and two glasses," stated Jason. "Two glasses Señor?" Asked Jose with a puzzled look. "Two glasses." repeated Jas. "Burgundy from France from 1866," said Jose as he placed the wine in front of Jas. "That was a good year amigo." "1866.....yes that was a very good year," said Jas. "Your friend will like this wine Señor, you know why?" "Because it is a very special wine," said Jose. Jas looked at Jose and said....."My friend....." paused Jas. "Well.....he was very special too!" Jas then picked up his things and headed out. Jose stood there looking puzzled and said....."Was?" There were two cowboys seated at the table behind Jas, curious about this stranger, the rose, the wine and his friend.
Jas rode a ways outside of town, back into time, back to the memory of his friend. He came to a particular spot, and tied his horse to an old weathered tree. He then took the rose, the wine & the two glasses from his saddle bags. He walked a short ways until he came to a grave that bared a wooden cross and markings of his friends things. He knelt down in front of the grave. "Burgundy, it's the color of the dark red rose Johnny." "Red is blood," said Jas as he faded back to the first time he met Johnny.
As Jason was riding the country side he was aware of everything going on around him. The Indians, the smoke signals, the camp fires burning, the music. The music? He had to find out just where this was coming from. He came across a group of soldiers in a cul de sac.
He rode into the cul de sac and got down from his horse demanding to know who was in charge. Corporal Johnny Macon greeting him with a handshake and said....."I am, Johnny Macon." As the men shook hands Jason introduced himself to the corporal. Jas then looked around at all the men and turned to Johnny and asked him if he could speak with him for a minute as he took Johnny aside from the others. "Sure.....we didn't hear you coming....." Jas interrupted....."I heard you plain enough," said Jas. "Well it's not much of a....." Jas interrupted again....."So did the Apaches!" "Apaches!" Stated Johnny. "You're new to the west, aren't you?" Asked Jas. "Well yeah, I'm new to the west and new to the Army. This is our first patrol detail." "Then I don't imagine you know the Indian language yet," said Jas. "No not much.....haven't even seen one," said Johnny. "They've seen you corporal. They're talking about you; I just saw their smoke signals. Johnny looked around. "We didn't see any smoke." "How could you? Look at this cul de sac, It's a natural trap!" Stated Jas. "It seemed like the best place to shelter the men. Look it get awful cold....." "There are many things to learn, I know," said Jas. "It sounds like you've been through this before. "Cavalry?" "Cavalry," said Jas. "Officer?" Asked Johnny. "Captain," said Jas reluctantly, he was trying to get his point across, but wasn't getting anywhere. "Can we get you some supper?" Asked Johnny.
"No! And put that fire out!" Jas's was angry, Johnny could tell by his tone and look on his face. The two men just stood there looking at each other. "That smoke.....and singing.....very inviting to the Apaches," said Jas. Still the two men stood there looking at each other. Just then Johnny turned and shouted to his men....."Kill those fires! Move!"
He then turned to Jas and asked if he had any other advice for them. Jas told him that he would pull out of that hole right away and bivouac on the trail on the open prairie. "Break Camp we're moving out!" Yelled Johnny. Everyone started to hurry and get things around. Just then Johnny started to pick up his guitar, and an arrow went dead center into it. Jas turned just in time as an Indian came over the top of the cul de sac. He shot and killed that Indian, but nothing seem to be stopping them. At this point the Indians were charging at the soldiers, killing one right after the other. While Jas and Johnny were holding their own, Johnny turned to Jas and said....."Don't these Apaches know they signed a treaty?" "Sometimes they break.....some times we do," said Jas. It was a loosing battle. The Indians were picking off the soldiers one by one. Johnny crawled over to one of his men as he looked at the dead soldier he said....."Five minutes ago.....he laughed.....cried.....and wrote a letter home." He then grabbed the arrow that was sticking out of the soldier's body & broke it. "Just a dirty little piece of wood now.....with blood on it. Why couldn't they leave it on a tree.....let it keep growing." "The first skirmish is the tough one Corporal. You start young and you age fast.....if you live." Just then Johnny got up and came towards me. Jas pushed him back against the rock. "I don't hear anything.....are they still out there?" Asked Johnny. "There out there alright. and they'll be back.....soon!" Jas asked Johnny who his best rider was. "I guess I am," said Johnny. "Don't guess.....tell me!" Said Jas sharply.
"I am, now what do you want me to do?" "I want you to get on a horse and ride to that fort before these renegades attack your CO and bring help back here fast," said Jas sternly.
"I'm responsible for my men! I'm going to stay here and fight!"
Yelled Johnny. "You don't know what you're talking about," yelled Jas to Johnny.
"They use to call me a cat.....I've got nine lives!" Yelled Johnny as he backed off the wall of the rock. Just then an Indian jumped Johnny. They both fell to the ground. Johnny hit the Indian in the face. The Indian grabbed the tomahawk and start to go for Johnny. Jas then pulled his sabre from his belt and threw it into the back of the Indian. "Now you only got eight lives left, get on that horse," said Jas. "Guess I messed up my first detail alright," said Johnny. "No you didn't, that's the way most of us learn, get going!" Johnny told Jas that he would go if Jas would take over for him there. Jas agreed. "Git!" said Jas. Just as Johnny got to his horse an Indian came out from behind a bush and was getting ready to shoot Johnny when Jas shot the Indian. Just then the Indians started to attack again. "Ride soldier!" Yelled Jas to Johnny as he rode off. They fought good and hard but they were out numbered. The Indians killed all the men and took Jas captive.
The Indians took Jas back to their camp. There was one Indian that Jas was surprised to see in among this band of Indians and that was Chief Wateekah. Chief Wateekah was just as surprised to see Jas. Wateekah had a grudge against Jas. He took Jas's saber and placed it over an open fire. He then approached Jas pointing it at him. "Since Bitter Creek you are know as coward, traitor. McCord.....a man who deserted his men in battle." Jas turned to him and said....."There was a time when everyone called you the leader of the Apaches, the great orator!"
Looking deep into Wateekah's eyes Jas said....."Now they call you the butcher!" Both men sat there staring into each others eyes. Wateekah broke the silence....."That battle has made my heart a stone.....no soft place in it." "Your chiefs gave you happy sword! They call you happy man!" "But we who fought at Bitter Creek know different." Jas smiled as he said to Wateekah....."I wish you had testified at my trial." "Why do you still fight with the soldiers that have made you walk in shame?" Jas looked Wateekah straight in the eye and said....."You and the other Apaches who fought at Bitter Creek brought shame to all the Indian Nations. I fight to keep you from bringing more shame.....to either of us." "We are warriors!" "You are renegades!" Said Jas. Wateekah laughed at Jas. "You call us renegades!" Again he laughed. "Is Sitting Bull a renegade?" "Is Crazy Horse a renegade?" "No we are leaders that know what must come!" "One say soon.....all the Indians, the Blackfoot.....the Sioux.....the Cheyenne.....we will all join together and we will drive the white man from our land." "Those who do not fight with us they will be the renegades!" "It will be your last fight Wateekah.....more and more soldiers will come," said Jas. "Like the dark skinned ones you fought with yesterday?" Asked Wateekah. Jas nodded his head and with confidence said....."Those and more!" "Dark skin soldiers died well and bravely, but not wisely." Jas defended the soldier....."They were inexperienced; they were caught in a trap. Your trap Wateekah.....but new ones will come.....they'll learn.....and then they will fight wisely. "One of them did not die yesterday. Will he come with more dark skin soldiers to help you?" Asked Wateekah. Jas told him that there would be no soldier and that the Army didn't worry about him. "Anymore the Apaches Nation worries about you," said Jas.
Johnny did make it back to Fort Stanton; the only problem is he couldn't get any help. Oh he tried, but Major Brackham wouldn't listen to him. "Since when does a trooper take orders from a civilian Macon" Asked the Major. "He wasn't in uniform sir, but he was a Captain!" "Was a Captain!" Laughed the Major. "Doesn't the name Jason McCord mean anything to you Macon?" "No sir!" "You never heard of the massacre at Bitter Creek?" Asked the Major.
"Not much sir.....only that one man came out alive." "Jason McCord, a coward who deserted his men came out alive." Stated the Major. "If he's a coward sir, he sure didn't show it!" "Back there he was killing more Indians than all of us put together." "Even a coward fights for his own skin," said the Major. "He saved mine Major Brackham!" "Could I make a request sir?" Asked Macon. "What is it?" Asked the Major. "Captain McCord....." Before Johnny could finished his sentence the Major interrupted John with....."He's not a Captain!" "Yes sir!" Johnny rephrased is wording. "Mr. McCord could still be alive.....maybe one or two of my own men. Somebody should go out there and see about them." "Send me!" Said Johnny. "My orders are to wait here for Colonel Moody." "Besides.....I'm not going on any wild goose chase just to save a coward." "Besides.....didn't you said it looked like all of your men could have been killed?" Asked the Major. "yes sir.....it looked pretty bad for them," said Johnny. "Your a good pupil.....you learned fast from McCord." The Major leaned forward on his desk....."Corporal Macon....." "Yes sir!" "You will be held in the guard house pending a general court martial. You will be charged with dereliction of duty.....desertion of your men in a battle!" The Major leaned back in his chair. "You wanted to be like McCord and now you've made it all the way." "Sir.....I just came back to report and to get help," stated Macon. "If you're found guilty do you realize the probable penalty?" Asked the Major. "Yes sir.....death by firing squad," said Johnny. "And that's just what your Captain would have gotten if I would have been the Captain in charge." The Major then called to the guard. Johnny still wanted to get his point across. " Major Brackham.....Mr. McCord may have made a mistake at Bitter Creek.....I don't know.....but no....." The Major wouldn't let Johnny finish his sentence. "But now you're under arrest." The Major then gave the guard orders to take Johnny away.
Wateekah and his tribe took Jason back to their camp. "The hills and valleys swarm with the white soldiers. How many dark ones join then?" Jas told him that no one but the great Chief in Washington knows that. "Their skin is much like ours. McCord.....why do they not fight on our side?" Jas told him that they were trying to earn the new freedom that was given to them by President Lincoln. Wateekah laughed. He thought it funny that they would have to earn the right to be free. Jas told him that is what they want to do, because it gives them dignity in their own eyes. Wateekah couldn't understand why those who were slaves would fight with their masters. "They fight for themselves.....for their homes!" Jas looked around....."For their country!"
"They should fight with the Indians who knows the white man takes away what he pretends to give!" Stated Wateekah. Jason looked around at the Indians. He told Wateekah that it was true, there were renegade whites as well as renegade Apaches. Jason told Wateekah that the white man fought a great battle to give the dark skins an equal right to this land and that the white men won't take it away. "That is what you say! You do not talk for the white man. You are an outcast McCord!" "And you don't talk for the Apache Wateekah. You're an outcast too!" Both men just sat there looking at each other. Wateekah then grabbed Jas's Sabre. He walked away, then turned and pointed at Jas. "If the dark skin soldiers care about the white men.....the one whose life you saved will come back for you."
"We will take him and then we will hear from his lips what you say about them is true." "And if he doesn't come?" Asked Jason. "If he doesn't come.....you are the bait!" "We leave the bait for buzzards."
Jason was awakened the next day by some of the Indians. Wateekah entered the teepee. "The sun rises.....it is time to bait the trap," said Wateekah. Jas told Wateekah that Johnny would be a fool to come here alone. "Then we shall see if he is a fool." "Then we will learn why the dark skin does not fight on the side of the Redman." Jason told him there was something he hasn't learned and that was all men are brothers and that the color of his skin has nothing to do with what side he fights on. "We shall see.....'Brother'," said Wateekah. They dragged Jason out a ways from the village to bait him. They tied him to a tree and he was stripped to the waist, and left to die under a scorching sun, while they waited for the dark skin soldier to return.