In BURNT on January 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm


When the wagon pulls up to the Assayer’s office, Arango starts lighting fuses.  A half-dozen men with rifles flank the building, scanning the crowded street.  Two more with pistols on their belts begin unloading bags of silver.

Arango counts five of his men traversing the muddy street.  There are five more on horseback somewhere nearby.  They blend in well with the miners who’ve come to town to blow their wages.  A few months earlier, they would have joined them, drinking and screwing and maybe springing for a bath to wash away the grime.  That was before the owners brought in thugs from Denver to break heads and quash any talk of unions.  When wages were cut to fifty-cents a day, some grumbled and some complained and those that shouted were driven by gun-point to the edge of town.

When Arango stumbled upon their camp, they were making periodic raids and hauling off mining supplies — shovels, picks, blasting caps, dynamite.  They were also starving.  Arango taught them to take their revenge in a more lucrative manner.

The building explodes in a hail-storm of splintered timber.  The guards stagger aimlessly through smoke and falling debris, left dazed and deaf from the blast.

Arango’s men only have to shoot a few of them.  They rise from the street or swoop in on their horses and, as Arango’s second blast blows a wall off the saloon, they commandeer the wagon and ride hell-bent for the mountains.

Arango catches up with them as they enter the trees.  He sees pride on their faces even as they ride for their lives.  After taking that beating at the tracks, Arango has wanted only one thing.  It took a lot of work to gain the trust of these desperate men.  Now he has what he’s been looking for.  Respect.

He throws a glance over his shoulder.  The army patrol has left town at a full gallop.  It won’t be long until the soldiers catch them.


Captain Brockson pushes his steed hard over rough ground.  The wagon won’t last much longer in this terrain.  He makes the signal to bear arms.

The patrol crests a bluff and enters a large clearing.  The wagon stands deserted.  The outlaws’ horses mill about, empty saddles.  Brockson circles the wagon.  Where are the men?  There is no cover for hundreds of yards.  The soldiers pull up hard, scattered, looking to him for an order.

Brockson opens his mouth to shout when suddenly the patrol is surrounded by men.  They have appeared from thin air, armed to the teeth.

Arango raises his pistol.  “It all ends here at Caballo Blanco.”

The Story So Far

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