conclusion to

Chapter 3


     After a while, Ruthie lost track of the road ~ found herself walking through the scrub.

     Upon her way, she found a hole in the ground.  The hole was round, with a diameter of about three feet, and dropped straight down ~ as if somebody looking for water had dug a well and found nothing but dirt.  Ruthie peered curiously into the black nothingness of this hole ~ and dropped a stone into it to see if she could hear the little chunk hit the bottom.  She heard nothing.

     "Wow, this hole is deep," said Ruthie to herself.  She dropped another stone into it.  There was no sound of this one hitting the bottom either.

     The road princess shrugged and turned away, was about to continue her endless walk when she felt on her back a gush of hot air.  She leaped away, stumbled and fell.  Lying a-sprawl on the ground, she looked back over her shoulder and saw a giant rattlesnake crawling up out of the hole.

     The reptile was wider around than a horse.  It slid out of the hole like a slow moving train.  Ruthie didn't get a very good look at its front end ~ it went sliding off into the brush.  But what she did see of the scaley jaw and absence of forehead, convinced her the creature was more or less bred in hell.  And more and more of it slid up out of the hole.  It wouldn't quit.

     Ruthie staggered to her feet ~ watched the big thing keep coming and coming out of what looked like an abandoned well.  Diamond symbols up and down the snake's back, tiled in an explosion of earthy colors, reminded Ruthie that hell, if this monster was bred there, might be a pretty creative place.  The young woman stood her ground, placed her hand on her hip impatiently, as if she were waiting for a long train to pass.

     Then she noticed that the shrubs all around were shaking.  And then, she saw glimpses of magnified scaley snake skin sliding between the gnarled plants.  Her eyes widened as she realized the snake, with its body, was fencing her in.

     Ruthie turned around and turned around again.  She was surrounded, alright, and the palms of her hands were suddenly clammy (she had some sweat left after all).

     After God knows how many minutes of this, the enormous multi-buttoned rattler at the tail-end of the monster swung up out of the hole.  And it rattled.

     Ruthie, mortified, began to tremble.

     And then, and then, she felt something looking at the back of her head.  Instinctively, swiftly, she turned around.  Not but six feet away, two rattlesnake eyes the size of coffee-cup platters, glowered at her.

     Ruthie gasped ~ and let loose, by far, the best Fay Wray scream of her life.  The flaming sun, high up above, winced at the shrill sound ~ and a slew of ash fell from the tip of his favorite smoke ~ his nose ~ thee eternal cigar.  Impressed, our flaming sun high up above intently peered down at Ruthie and tipped his top hat to her.

     And down below, from the big snake's grim mouth shot forth a thick forked tongue ~ knocked over the road princess.

     Involuntarily, Ruthie rolled into the hole.  With one hand, she managed to catch hold of a root two feet below the earth's surface.  Her feet flailed at the gloomy walls.  Chunks of earth fell into the black depths below.  Then, the root started slipping little by little out of the well's wall.  Dirt cascaded on Ruthie's head as she slowly descended down down into the bottomless well, clutching desperately with one hand to the end of the lengthening root.

     The road princess, after having vocally freed her hysteria, knew she had to act fast.  If she could make the sun wince with a scream, like she had just done before falling into this hole, maybe, just maybe, she could also leap out ~ if she tried.

     Ruthie found a toe hold in the well's wall, gritted her teeth, and tried.  Lo' and behold, she sprang out like a little girl's dream, sailed over the snake, and crash landed in a mesquite bush thirty yards away.  She scrambled to her feet and ran away through the scrub.  The serpent, cracking rocks and branches, slithered after her.  When Ruthie tripped and fell into a ditch, the monster caught up ~ and yawned at her.  Two sharp fangs the size of parking meters, dripped with venom in front of Ruthie's face.  Mesmerized, and with lungs out of breath and heaving, she could no longer move.  She tried ~ but, woe was her, to no avail.

     The giant rattlesnake coiled up, raised its head upon the totem pole of its neck, was about to strike ~ when, oh when, a bolt of lightning from up above, with an awesome crack, splattered that gnarly head to pieces.

     The all-of-a-sudden decapitated monster, of course, dropped dead.  The ground shuddered.  The monster convulsced for a moment or two before it ceased to move entirely.

     The road princess turned her awe-struck gaze up into the sky to see from whence the bolt of lightning came ~ and what do you suppose she saw?

     A cloud ~ a huge one ~ about a mile high.  It was deep purple and white and bright ~ hustling along in fast motion, not like clouds normally do.

     The wind blew suddenly fierce ~ and Ruthie's hair slapped against her cheek.  More than a little sage was uprooted and blown away.  Ruthie, who was lucky enough to be half-lying, half-sitting in a nice two-foot deep ditch, wondered if this wind was creating the cloud, or was the cloud creating the wind?

     The almighty cloud looked kind of like a galloping horse, no, it was a mule (you could tell by its long ears).  And there rode a rider in the saddle upon the beast's back.  The rider twirled a smokey six-gun and slipped it back into the holster strapped low on his hip.

     The giant rattlesnake, compared to this colossus conglomeration of mist, was nothing more than a fat worm ~ blasted-in-the-head dead.  Yes, a divine dream come true had just shattered a most ungodly nightmare!

     The misty rider above wore a weathered Stetson on his head, and tattered chaps on his thighs, and the spurs on his boot heels shined like spinning galaxies.  Upon his long-eared steed he galloped across the sky.

     Ruthie's heart somersaulted when he tipped his hat to her ~ for she, who was a mouse compared to the size of him, saw in the infinitely deep eyes above his flying beard, the real thing ~ and it was not Coca Cola.

     It was love.

     The magnificent cloud churned overhead and into the distance, leaving specks of mist behind its heels.  Ruthie, her mouth fallen open, watched the awesome phenomena shrink away over the horizon.

     And then, and then, as the wind died down, she heard a rumble.  It was hoof beats ~ about a hundred of them ~ on the dirt road of which she had lost track, which was, lo' and behold, next to the ditch into which she had fallen.

     Ruthie, with great effort, stood up, swayed, almost fainted but not quite, and saw a gang of turn-of-the-century Mexican revolutionaries, on horseback, come tearing around a bend in the road.

     The lead horseman, with a couple belts of ammo criss-crossed over his soiled peasant shirt, was a bit too overweight to be doing this sort of thing.  Never-the-less, he held a beat-up bugle to his lips ~ and blew a surpizingly angelic tune upon it as he rode....

     And the rest of the gang, waving sombreros and rifles in the air, chanted:


"El Vaquero!

 El Vaquero!

   El Vaquero!"


~ as they chased after the phenomenal cloud that had disappeared over the horizon.

     When the Mexican revolutionaries passed by, Ruthie smiled and waved.  A few returned her friendly gesture with magnanimous grins and, of course, more than a few tipped their hats to her ~ until the dust churned up by the violent hooves of their steeds bellowed so thick and high that the road princess could not see three feet in front of her.

     The hoof beats faded away down the road she'd been coming up all day long.  And Ruthie beheld a great silence ~ a thick silence ~ in thick clouds of dust.  This silence picked up her soul in its silent hand and lifted it up ~ up to a place where her soul could see ~ see forever!  The clouds of dust around Ruthie lingered and continued to linger ~ and what do you suppose forever looked like?  A grave?

     The air slowly cleared ~ and each particle of wandering dust disappeared ~ and Ruthie could swear she heard each piece of dust hollering for mercy as it disappeared ~ disappeared into thin air.

     And then ~

     And then ~

     And thennnnnnn ~

     Ruthie saw a lone figure, afoot, lackadaisically approaching.  A ways down the road, he came sauntering out of the very last lingering cloud of adrift dust.


(Copyright 1990, 2010)




another one by Mr. Tissot...


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 The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mexico