The Adventures of Maite and Kepa: Part 70

The Adventures of Maite and Kepa is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

“What about us?” hissed Kepa, his anger barely contained. Though he had mostly hated his time up in the hills, he had still grown attached to his life there, even to Santi and the sheep if he were honest with himself.

“Don’t you worry,” answered Donny. “I’ve got plans for you. And your girl ain’t here to protect you this time.”

Santi turned toward Kepa with a look of anger. “Zer egin zenuen?” he asked in Euskara. “What did you do?”

“Ezer ez,” hissed Kepa. 

“Now, now,” interrupted Donny with a smile that then turned into a scowl. “You are in America now, and you better be speaking English.”

Donny turned to the other two cowboys. “Jimmy, Bobby, you two watch the perimeter. We don’t want to be interrupted.”

The other two cowboys nodded as one went back toward the horses and the other crossed the camp in the other direction.

“Now, then,” said Donny once the other two were in position. “You can put that thing away,” he added, waving his own revolver at Santi and his shotgun. “I know you ain’t going to use it.”

Santi reluctantly placed his gun on the ground next to his chair.

“Good boy,” smiled Donny. “See, that wasn’t so hard. If you had just listened in the first place, we wouldn’t be in this situation, now would we?”

“You were just going to let us go, were you?” asked Kepa.

“Oh, you’ve figured me out,” laughed Donny. “Of course not. We need to make examples of you damn herders and you two will do as well as any. Better than most,” he added, with a piercing stare at Kepa.

“Fine,” said Kepa. “If this is personal, between you and me, let him go.” He nodded his head toward Santi. “He has nothing to do with you.”

Donny shrugged. “True. But, he’s here with you. You know, guilty by association. And he’s still a damn sheep bastard.” He paused and then chuckled lightly. “You know, I heard that the reason they hired you Basquos to herd the sheep is because you stink so bad, you keep the coyotes away.”

Santi growled, but Kepa put his hand on his partner’s arm, trying to calm him.

Donny grabbed something from his hip and threw it at Kepa, who caught the twirling stick in the air as it came at him. It was a stick with some kind of sticky resin at the end. Kepa looked at Donny. “What is this?”

“A torch.” He waved his revolver almost nonchalantly at the fire. “Light it.”

Kepa stood up and placed the pitch-end of the torch in the flames. Within an instant, the end of the torch was ablaze.

“Now, throw it in your wagon.”

Kepa looked at Donny in shock. “Ez,” he growled. “No.”

Donny shrugged again. Kepa heard the bang and Santi’s scream before he realized what had happened. Santi was holding his shoulder; blood was pouring down the sleeve of his shirt. Kepa nearly dropped the torch to run to Santi’s side when Donny barked at him. “Stop!”

“I heard you Basques were stubborn, but I didn’t think you were so stupid,” he said. “If you don’t want your friend to take another bullet,” he continued, his voice dropping into a menacing snarl, “you’ll throw that torch into the wagon.”

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