The Writer's Corner
Written by Klara's Boy
The young peccary stood between the brown rocks, heavily
breathing. It was obviously exhausted. Its left foreleg got hurt
between the sharp stones, when it tried to follow the rest of
its herd after the cougar's attack. Now the little animal was
alone. Desperately it tried to catch up with the other
peccaries, but they were far ahead somewhere between the bushes
at the arroyo seeking shelter from the smoldering heat.
Excruciating pain ran in long waves through its haggard body.
The hungry cat could return anytime. So the young peccary
hurried to cross the dry riverbed which lied ahead. The hot sand
offered almost no cover. The wheezing animal attempted to run as
fast as ever but the crippled leg allowed only short steps.
However the javelina was lucky. The predator had already
vanished between the huge crags and posed no more threat for the
The peccary felt tormenting fear. In order to survive it had to
reach the herd at all cost. A few more seconds and the parched
scrubland on the other side would offer protection and … the
peccary never heard the shot nor felt the bullet. It was already
dead when its hooves were weakly kicking the air.
“Gosh, Pa, I never knew javelina would be so tasty.”
“Well, now you know! Eat hearty. It's a three-days-ride back to
the ranch. We gotta move now.”
Lucas McCain and his son were enjoying their delicious meal
under a giant outcrop right in the middle of the desert.
Somewhere out there was the Mexican border, an invisible line
among brushes, red sand and towering rocks. Now the searing sun
was rising over the dunes, promising infernal heat. The sky was
cloudless and only some croaking crows were soaring into the
After their lavish meal father and son mounted up and headed
north, passing the majestic mesas.
Despite the temperature Mark enjoyed his first hunting trip out
in the desert. It was surely an adventure, something to tell the
other boys back at school after the vacation.
In the late afternoon they arrived at the dark entrance to a
narrow canyon which looked like a terrible gash in the flank of
the mountain. Somewhere up in the bluff cliff an eagle cried.
“That canyon is the best way home, son. It's about four miles
long and leads to a ridge which runs straight up to North Fork.
From now on we should have nice ride, son. Don't you worry.”
But Mark was not convinced, but he couldn't admit that he was
afraid of riding into the dark ravine.
“Is there any other way home, Pa?”
“Yes, but it would take us even two more days to get home. I
don't intend to leave our ranch unattended that long. Besides I
would like to see Micah again. I hope there was no trouble in
town during our absence. I hate to leave a friend on his own for
such a long time. So let's get moving, son!”
Between the scarps of the gorge it was surprisingly cool. Small
lizards rushed into cover when they sensed the hoofs in the
sand. Lucas took point carefully directing his horse around the
massive rocks that were covering the ground. Mark nervously
eyeballed the steep cliffs of the canyon.
“Can we have a break, Pa? I think my horse would be grateful for
a rest, too.” 2
Before Lucas could answer he spotted a movement about half a
mile ahead. He stopped his horse. After several seconds he was
sure: riders came trotting through the canyon towards them.
“Yes, Pa …”
“We got company. There are a couple of men ahead of us. Dismount
and take my horse too. Stay behind the rock over there in the
shadow. I'll do the talking. Don't come out until I call you.”
Father and son got off their horses and Mark led the animals
back into the cover of a boulder, which was looming next to the
crag of the canyon. Lucas took position on a ledge in front of
it, rifle in hand. He hoped he wouldn't have to use it. A fight
on that broken ground would be devastating.
After a few minutes the four horsemen appeared in front of him.
When they caught sight of Lucas they stopped and seemed to have
a short talk. Then they kept on approaching without hesitation.
When they were about 20 feet away the turned their horses to the
side, spread out and blocked the way. Without a word they lined
up in front of Lucas. Their movements seemed well coordinated.
Although his nerves were on edge Lucas tried to smile and to
start a casual conversation.
No answer. The four strangers were staring at him without any
emotion, without any word.
Still no answer.
Lucas eyeballed the curious fellows. On the left side a young
man, hardly older than sixteen years had taken his position. He
was armed with a rusty Spencer carbine and a Colt 45 sticking
loosely in his belt in front of his belly. The cockeyed boy
permanently grinned showing his snaggle teeth.
Next to him, a gangly Mexican with a holey sombrero and a flea
infested poncho was smoking calmly a cigarillo. The man was
carrying a 12 Gauge double-barreled shotgun in his left hand and
a huge machete in a scabbard on his back. Hideous smallpox scars
disfigured his dark face.
The guy next to him was about sixty years old and looked pretty
measly. His grey beard covered the upper part of his squalid
shirt. Despite the terrible heat a grungy blanket covered the
man's shoulder. His Colt 1851 Navy Revolver was holstered on his
right side along with a Bowie knife.
The last man was so fat, that he had to breathe through his
mouth the whole time. His scruffy shirt was far too small to
cover his entire belly. His bald head, double chin and small
eyes reminded Lucas of a price winning boar, his father once
possessed. The bloated guy had two impressive Schofield
revolvers holstered, one at each side of his vast hips. A
Tequila bottle jutted out of his saddle bag.
The four men kept staring at Lucas for one endless minute after
forming their line. The horse of the grinning boy on the left
side nickered once in a while. All of their animals were in
miserable shape, 3
badly nourished and covered with sweat and dust. Lucas could
easily count their rips. For a moment he felt sorry for those
tormented creatures. Then he tried again to get any kind of
“It´s just me and my son, gentleman. If there is nothing I can
do for you I suppose you let us pass …”
“There is a lot you can do for us, Mister. A lot indeed, I
Behind the silent strangers, a fifth man appeared. He was riding
a huge sorrel with a fresh, still bleeding wound on its ride
flank. The effete mare looked hardly strong enough to stay on
its legs. But the fellow on its back didn't seem to notice the
sorry state his horse was in.
He stopped his poor mount right behind his scruffy companions,
who still remained motionless.
Lucas looked at him suspiciously. The man was armed with a
brand-new Winchester 73, hanging in a scabbard at the side of
his mare and a Remington Model 1875 revolver stuck in a
decorated holster at his left side. The stranger's eyes,
cheekbones and hairstyle revealed that he had at least one
Indian ancestor. Maybe he was a half-breed though he was dressed
like a wealthy white farmer from the East. He wore a brown
jacket, a checkered shirt, a black stovepipe hat and evidently
expensive leather boots. His youthful face with a tiny mustache
was smiling gleefully, showing healthy teeth.
While talking he always kept his men between himself and McCain.
“My name is Lomax, Erin Lomax, and these gentlemen right in
front of you are my trusty friends. You don't have to be afraid
of us, Mister. We don't mean no harm. We are … let's say … on
the hunt at the moment, trying to make a living. And we're on a
streak let me tell you. Ain't that right, boys?”
The first time, the bedraggled men between him and Lucas showed
any reaction. The fat man waived his arms and the constantly
grinning boy nodded as his right hand went down to his belt,
where his gun stuck. The Mexican spit out his cigarillo and
turned his head back to Lomax. As he sneered the fondled a
well-filled sack hanging from his saddle horn. Only the sickly
old timer with the grey beard seemed too weak to say or do
anything. He obviously had a hard time not to drop out of the
Lucas tried to calm his voice. He was glad that the sun wasn't
shining into his eyes that very moment.
“So, what is it you want, Mr. Lomax?”
“As I mentioned you have nothing to fear, if you do, as you're
told. It's simple as this: hand over your money, you water, your
horses and your food, and most of all, that fancy rifle of
yours. That way your boy won't get hurt. I am pretty fond of
kids, you know. By the way, I got three boys myself …”
Lucas didn´t answer. His rifle did. The narrow canyon was filled
with earsplitting gunfire.
The brown lizard was hot, so it dashed across the stones heading
for a cool hideout between the shadows of the dust covered
rocks, leaving little tracks in baked sand. But there was an
obstacle. A body was lying in its way. The tiny animal ran
around it and vanished between the pebbles under the bushes.
Little did it realize that the stones were covered with red
specks. Only some flies were gathering to have quite a feast.
Pretty soon much bigger beasts would join the unexpected meal.
“I´m alright, Mark. Let's get out of here, son. This time it was
really a close shave. But I got just four of them. Lomax sure
showed good sense to stay behind his men. Now we have to hurry.
“These men …”
“… are dead, Mark! Most of them, at least. And I don't feel like
burying them. I settled for their water and some of their guns.
They were pretty short on ammunition though. Get on your horse!”
Mark and Lucas mounted their animals. Carefully they passed the
four bodies lying between the rocks. Mark was clearly disturbed
by the gruesome sight. Lucas noted his boy's glance, as he rode
“They left me no choice. But they sure had it coming.
Surprisingly the old fellow was the best shot. He almost got me
with his Navy Colt. But Lomax got away. Didn't want to share
their fate, I guess.”
Mark was still wan, when they spurred their horses. Lucas was
deeply troubled. Lomax would soon find a place to waylay them to
take revenge and to gain their possessions after all. During the
brutal gunfight he had turned and took flight, vanishing into
the canyon. So the half-breed was still somewhere out there in
the dessert, probably waiting for them in an ambush. And there
was something else. During the shoot-out the Mexican's sack
dropped from the saddle. After looking into it, Lucas became
fully aware of what Lomax meant when he mentioned a hunt for
making a living …
“We have to be very beady until we get home! Really careful!
Keep your eyes open! If you see something strange, anything at
all, you have to tell me immediately! Do you understand?”
“Sure, Pa …”
After two miles Mark did encounter something strange lying in
the hot sand between the boulders. He pointed at the black
stovepipe hat the warm desert wind was gently playing with.
After a hard ride they reached the end of the canyon without any
incident. The vast desert landscape was stretching to the
horizon. Two more days to go. Mark had hardly spoken a word
since the gunfight. Lucas stopped and looked at his son. The
very thought that something could happen …
They turned their horses left and headed slowly for the barren
ridge that ran straight north for many miles until it reached
the hills south of Northfork. Lucas raised his rifle and
overlooked the rocky terrain. He waited for any sign of danger
but only the wind stirred up some dust. From the corner of his
eye he suddenly noticed a swift movement between the thorny
bushes. Within a second he turned his Winchester towards it,
prepared to take on any enemy. But it was only a lonesome coyote
seeking shelter behind a mighty cactus in the scrubland. Lucas
lowered his rifle, trying to calm himself. Out in the open,
Lomax wouldn't try his luck. But in the rocky hills his
“Something wrong, Pa?”
“No … no, everything's fine, son! You're alright?” 5
“Sure, Pa …”
“The horses need water and rest! Seems to me that there is a
spring over there. Let's take a look.”
He was right. A tiny creek ran out of the rocks into a small
bond under a giant cliff. After drinking and watering the horses
Lucas ´watchful eyes spotted the coyote again only a few meters
away. But this time the animal was not alone: two others
accompanied him trough the tense scrubland. The animals seemed
to have a certain purpose. On the spur of the moment Lucas
decided to climb up a rock nearby in order to get a better
overview. Then he saw, what the coyotes were heading for …
“Mark! You wait here! I'll be right back. If you see something,
call me! I have to check, what …”
“But Pa …?”
“I´ll be right back. Don't worry!”
After cocking his rifle Lucas made his way through the thorny
Coyotes, being opportunist as all desert creatures had learned
to use any chance to fill their bellies. Their cunning was as
infamous as their hunger. Despite being despised as cowardly
vermin, they tend to show aggressive behavior when cornered or
attacked. So the coyotes bared their teeth, angry about the
disturbance but finally they took off, when the big man drove
them away from their prey.
Lucas approached watchfully the cadaver. He sighed, when he was
looking down at the beautiful animal that was lying in front of
him. Three little streams of dried blood were running from
bullet holes on the sorrel's neck. Under the mare's bloated
belly Lucas spotted something else. He kneeled down into the
soft sand and lifted a single boot made of really fine leather.
He turned back to Mark. They had to leave as soon as possible.
Sand was crunching under his feet while he was running as fast
as he could. For a moment the relentless heat made him dizzy.
Maybe it was already too late but they have to try. Otherwise
the poor mare would not stay the only victim …
“Son! We have to get out of here! Get the horses ready! Mark! Do
you hear me? Let's move!”
But nothing could prepare Lucas for the surprise that awaited
him when he reached the cliff. Mark and the horses were still
there. But they were not alone anymore. A man was with Mark,
holding a Winchester 73. But before Lucas could fire his own
rifle to save his boy, he heard Mark's scream.
“Don´t! Pa! Please! Don't shoot! Let us talk with him! Please!”
The man next to Mark remained calm. He made one step forward,
displaying utter self-confidence.
“Your son is wise! You should listen to him! Come here! Let's
Lucas knew that any resistance would be suicidal. So he slowly
lowered his rifle and walked closer. While catching his breath
he could hear the pack behind him resuming its gory meal.
“You´re alright, son?”
“I am alright, Pa. He is an Apache, isn´t he?”
“He sure is, Mark! And it seems he speaks our tongue fairly
well. What have you done to the white man, whose horse is lying
over there? Speak up!”
The Apache grinned. He was only a head taller than Mark, but it
was impossible to tell his age. His raven hair framed his brown
face, which was covered by fine wrinkles. His strong chin and
dark eyes indicated a strong-willed personality, a cruel
warrior, born to live and fight in the desert. The Apache wore
just knee-high moccasins, a loincloth, an off-white shirt and a
blue headband. A colorful blanket was wrapped around his narrow
hips. A precious necklace made out of eagle claws, pearls,
feathers and blue stones was hanging from his neck. In his right
hand the warrior carried the Winchester 73 which once had
belonged to a half-breed called Erin Lomax, the man with the
“What happened to him? Why do you care? You should be thanking
your Christian god on your knees, that you don't share his fate.
My warriors took him to our camp. That's all you need to know.”
“But you can't …”
“He and his friends butchered seven women and eleven children of
my people three suns ago to take their scalps. My niece was
among the dead. She was only four years old. My whole family
loved her. She was murdered for the white man's money. The
chiefs of the Mexicans pay 100 Pesos for one scalp. We have to
protect our families and our homes. So we kill all white men
without mercy …”
Lucas swallowed. His throat became dry but not only because of
“I know. I am sorry! I saw the sack with their scalps back in
the canyon. I had to kill those murderers because they wanted to
take our lives too. They were bad men. But not all white men are
The Apache shook his head in disbelief. His glowing eyes were
full of hate.
“We followed the scalp hunters to make them pay. But the Great
Lifegiver decided different.”
Lucas looked around. He just saw desiccated grass, brown sand
and red boulders.
“You already found their bodies in the canyon? How could you
come here so quickly?”
“This is our land! Each of our boys knows more paths, more
springs, more hideouts than any white man will ever know. You
will never know our ways. Yes, my warriors have found the
carcasses of those white dogs in the canyon. So it became clear
that the Great Lifegiver sent a lonely warrior to carry out our
vengeance for us. He made you his instrument. Therefore you
shall go in peace.”
Mark was clearly stunned. He had seen an untamed Apache never
before. The warrior lifted a hand.
“We knew that misery would come to our villages. Four suns ago,
I heard the call of an owl. Our ancestors taught us that owls
are the harbinger of death. They were right. Our children are
The Apache lowered his head. Suddenly Lucas noticed tears in his
eyes. For a moment Lucas was flabbergasted. Nobody back home
would believe such a thing: a bloodthirsty savage, who was
openly weeping for his dead relatives. Then the Apache pointed
at the rifle in Lucas' hands. 7
“This rifle was given to you by the Great Lifegiver to protect
your kin. Always remember that!”
That was the moment when Mark grabbed the arm of the Apache
before Lucas could do anything to prevent it. The boy was also
fighting his tears. That encounter was simply too much for him.
“But is there no other way? Why can't there be peace between you
and us, Mister?”
The Apache turned and looked straight into Mark's eyes. The
warrior even managed to smile.
“Only in death is true peace. Return home now, boy. Go fast! I
feel a storm coming up.”
The he started to walk away straight into the endless desert,
while the wind notably intensified.
Lucas put one hand on his son's shoulder, not really knowing
what else to do. Mark stepped forward.
“Wait! What's your name, sir?”
The Apache stopped for a moment, stood motionless before slowly
turning around, facing Mark.
“They call me the one, who yawns.”
“How´s business, Sweeney?”
“Never better, Lucas. Looks like that three regiments have
walked in and out today. Those bluecoats seemed to have taken an
oath to spend their whole pay at my place. A beer for you,
“Sure, why not? If there is any left, that is.”
The whole saloon was crowded with laughing soldiers. Young
recruits, barely old enough to shave were drinking with grizzled
veterans. It was always that way before a big campaign. Lucas
cast back his mind. He remembered his service as a lieutenant
during the war, when he received the order to move his men
forward on the second day at Gettysburg. Once more he beheld the
choking smoke covering Cemetery Hill before his inner eyes. He
thought of the wounded men at his feet, begging for water or
their mother. He even remembered a dying reb private screaming
out for General Lee.
While drinking his beer he noticed Mark who had returned from
school. The boy was strolling around in the street, admiring the
countless men in arms with all their equipment. After a while
Mark caught a glimpse of a master sergeant loading barrels into
a supply wagon right in front of the saloon. The soldier was a
giant of a man. He was as big as Lucas but had a far more
massive frame. His muscular arms, tense beard and bushy brows
made him resemble a grizzly. But his most distinctive feature
was the batch he was wearing over his left eye. When he noticed
Mark he seemed a bit on the edge.
“You want something, boy?”
“No …no, sir! Just looking, sir.”
Lucas paid for his beer, took his rifle and stepped quickly out
of the saloon. Among those rugged men it was advisable to keep
an eye on the boy. The master sergeant wiped the sweat off his
“That´s your boy, mister?” 8
“He sure is. The name is Lucas McCain and that's my son Mark,
“Beg your pardon, sir… but you look like … well … a pirate.”
For a moment the giant soldier frowned before a broad grin split
his scared face.
“It´s alright, sir. The boy just speaks his mind. I appreciate
that! Mighty fine kid! Yes, I lost my eye back in ´64 in the
Wilderness. The first time, Lee and Grant locked horns. Awful
bloody mess I can tell ya! A hell of a knock-down-drag-out
fight. Served under General Jubal Early then, yessir! One of the
cursed Yankees aimed for my head with his bayonet. Hurt like
hell. Doc back at the hospital couldn't do anything about my
eye. But I kept on marching, of course. Had to keep on fighting
those Yanks. At Cedar Creek I caught a shrapnel in the shoulder.
It's still in my flesh. Doesn't keep me from doing whatever is
necessary though. Sure was lucky that time! When our cause was
lost I reenlisted. That's why I am working for those Yanks now.
God sure works in mysterious ways, let me tell ya, sir.”
“Where is your outfit heading, Sergeant?”
“Apache country, as far as I know. You can never tell what the
goddamned officers are coming up with. But there is one thing as
sure as god is my judge. This time we lick those damned injuns
for good. This time we make them pay, yessir. Gonna be a hell of
a fight, but they gonna pay …”
The man resumed loading the wagon with supplies. It was obvious
that he wasn't interested in answering any more questions. Mark
tried to say something but his father butted in quickly.
“Let´s go home. After the storm, we still have some damaged
fences to string, son.”
“Sure, Pa …”
On the way to their horses, Mark suddenly stopped and ran back
to the soldier who was now carrying a wooden crate filled with
rifle ammunition on his broad shoulders.
“Sir … with all due respect … have you ever heard about an
Apache, who is called the yawning one?”
The one-eyed master sergeant froze for a moment before he placed
the bulky box in the wagon. He remained silent while fixing it
in its position with leather straps. There was nothing worse
than supplies falling off to the ground during the march. The
silence grew awkward. Then he sighed.
“I sure have, son.”
“My older brother got killed by that goddamned injun last year
down there in Mexico.”
“Sorry about that …”
“The one who yawns … he is far better known under his Spanish
name … Geronimo.”
These stories are based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
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around The McCain Ranch