So C. A. Jones  and I are riding along, south of the border in a stage coach we “acquired” from some rather disagreeable miners.  We weren’t just out ‘jacking carriages like the Marshals claim, and keeping our necks south of the Rio Bravo wasn’t just because they’d get lengthened if we ride anywhere near New Austin.  We were, in fact, out busting up hide outs of criminal gangs and the occasional Rebeldes stronghold.  Ya’ know, respectable, honest killin’ and lootin’.

We’d followed the trail down to northern South Texas.  There, we’d heard about a cache of some of those new automatic pistols back stateside near Twin Rock.  Hence, the stage and the ride.  I was driving, A. J. riding shotgun. In defense of my driving, the roads down south aren’t as wide, kept, or defined as they are around Blackwater.  It’s hard enough to tell if the road is under the scrub and cactus never mind whether or not it’s under us.  So yeah, we’re bouncing around some. 

“Fine, you drive.”  A. J. takes the reins, and I jump in back to enjoy the scenery.  Needless to say, the ride didn’t improve.  I may have mentioned that braking is something of a skill A. J. hasn’t figured out quite yet.  Two and three foot drops here and there were often followed by calls of “oops.”

So it goes until we come up around Fort Mercer.  For whatever reason the Army abandoned the place and now it’s a proper hive of scum and villainy.  We’d shot the place up pretty good earlier, and whoever was away had come back none too pleased about it.


“Keep driving!” I shout, but Jones finds the brake handle for the first time.  He jumps down and runs around the side of the carriage.  “What are you doing?”

“There’s some of those guys!”


“Ya think?  Get back up there and get us out of here!”  He jumps up and away we go.  Now the ride gets interesting; bouncing, incoming fire, outgoing fire, if there was a road I couldn’t tell you if we were on it.  Brake handle?  A fond memory.

We bang around for a few minutes before the incoming fire peters out.  A few wobbly minutes after that, and A. J. calls back, “hey, does that wheel look like it’s coming off?”  And we stop to look at the errant wheel.

“Hey, uh,” I look up front, “didn’t we have two horses pulling?”

“Yeah!  Where’d the other one go?”

“Maybe I should drive.  Just ’til we get to Twin Rock.”