We rode our horses in silence. The dead Spaniard in our thoughts. Then I asked a question, ‘All these years and you were in Yerba Buena and our paths didn’t cross?’
‘Maybe I did know you were there but just had problems to attend to,’ my brother replied.
‘Why are you here without your family?’
‘Frontier life won’t do for them.’
‘Are you going to start lying to me now, brother?’
‘I was going to be a deputy. They had some gauntlet tests for me to pass which I did. But for some reason, my wife kept hounding me that if I didn’t make it, she was going to leave me… I didn’t make it.’
‘But you’re the best gunman–‘
He interrupted, ‘She’d been sleeping with the sheriff all along. I never had a chance..Took my boys..now she’s living with him.’
‘Ah.’ I smiled in amusement, ‘Well, you know her and her friends love to be around power, whatever the cost. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. How’s your mother-in-law? Still running her underground operations with that fool of a son of hers?’
‘That fool is a deputy now.’
‘A deputy! Haha. That guy—I thought a posse is after him.’
‘Yes, he formed a posse. It was the ‘thing’ to do. He took their money and ran… They’re still looking for his whereabouts. As for the former mother-in-law…now that her daughter is with the sheriff, she’s actually become a sort of cult leader in the growing Yerba neighborhoods, showering people with gifts so they can do her bidding.’
‘Her husband still a cuckold?’
‘That’s the reason I was out here in the mining fields. I was stupid to grow a heart and try to warn him about his wife. He seemed like a nice feller after getting to know him….You know she has this lavish house up on the hills. It’s a house she keeps with her lover. Sad thing about it, it’s her husband’s money..I’m pretty sure my money too with the aid of her daughter.’
‘Well, years..decades of no one in that family..all the relatives..even you and your wife, not telling him a damn thing as she led a double-life, what did you expect, him to run away with you and be a free man when you finally told the truth?’
‘He didn’t believe me when I told him…. She needed to cause a distraction so she put on some crocodile tears and started accusing me of coming to her place and waving a gun at her, when all I did was try to find him so he could leave with me.’
I started laughing unbelievably.
‘We’re here,’ my brother stopped his horse and I rode up next to him. We saw the lights of San Francisco twinkling like thousands of bonfires at the edge of the bay water.
Categories: Elle Peyarre's Short Stories (fiction)