Authors: Boston Teran
God Is a Bullet
Never Count Out the Dead
The Prince of Deadly Weapons
Giv: The Story of a Dog and America
The original Rawbone, whom I hunted for years
Lazaro, for that box of penny postcards and the tale of Senor Death
Though this is a work of fiction, certain details, backgrounds, places,
and particular events are based on historical fact.
-- E WAS BORN in Scabtown the day Lincoln was assassinated at
Ford's Theatre. Scabtown was a parasitic hive of gaming, crib
houses and red-eye across the river from Fort McKavett, Texas.
He was raised in a brothel behind Saloon Number 6. His mother
was a whore, his father one of the nameless who knew her bed. The boy
was nine when she died from a knife wound over money.
He took to living in a crate of wood slats he'd cobbled together
under some trees near the riverbank. He carried slops and beer for pay;
there was no job too menial, none too difficult. When the pestilence
came he earned wages helping an army doctor with the sick and dying.
Death did not frighten him. Its heady reek meant nothing. He was
much like the landscape he'd been born of, a vision hostile and burned.
And of those narrow streets that are the souls of men he had seen much
He huddled alone in that tiny hut with only a ratty blanket about
him. His dreams were tortuous and often sad, his childhood waylaid by
reality. Most nights he was left to watching the kerosene lamps in the
windows of that filthy hamlet and what stories were told there.
The boy hated his name. After his mother died he never spoke it. A
prizefighter came to Fort McKavett. His face was battered, the cheeks
swollen and craggy. He was not a large man, but he had enormous
scarred fists and a thick back. On the parade grounds he fought a much
bigger man in the baking sun. The boy watched as the fighters stalked
each other round by round over that shadowless dust. It was all blood
and exhaustion. But the smaller man would not be defeated and it came
to be that the boy saw himself in that knotted frame, and when finally
the other fighter succumbed, dropping to his knees on the blood-soaked
earth, the boy experienced a place of power within himself that he
could never have imagined existed. The fighter's name was Rawbone,
and from that day forward it was what the boy called himself.
Not long after that he killed his first man. A drunk who'd wandered lost, after his time with a whore, down to the river darkness. He
knifed the man as his own mother had been knifed and then he stole his
money. The coins had blood on them and he washed them in the river
till they shined.
THE ROAD OUT of Sierra Blanca followed its course through bleached
and silent reaches toward the Rio Grande. From a promontory
Rawbone watched an approaching island of dust rising up and away
with the wind. It was 1910 and there was chaos throughout the border
country of Texas.
Through the rivery heat of a white noon Rawbone began to make
out details amidst the dust. It was a truck, a three-tonner. One of those
new Packards, or maybe an Atlas, all bulked down and lashed with
goods. The open cab was shaded by a tarp stretched across a frame supported by metal stanchions welded to the chassis. The gray tarp
fluttered madly like some magic carpet. There were two men in the cab,
a driver on the right and the other on the left with his boots up on the
It was the one beside the driver who saw first this figure walking into the shadowless void of the road far ahead, waving a hat. He
"Now what might that be?" said the driver.
The other reached for a carbine and straddled it across his legs.
They continued through the heat a long while until they came upon a
raggedy, meager-looking fellow whose most prominent features were a
huge forehead and tightly boned eyes.
The truck slowed and the men stared with hard vigilance as the fellow in the road called, "Please, stop." As the truck drew close Rawbone
saw how its sides had been built partway up with a protective casing
made from thin sheets of metal and painted in broad letters down the
length of that casing on each side of the truck body were the words
"Aye, brothers," said Rawbone as the truck finally braked. "It's
Christian of you to stop. I lost my mount there in the hills." He pointed
with his derby to a saddle and bridle lying by the side of the road. "I
could use a ride and as for being a bummer"-he took from the inside
lip of his filthy derby paper money-"I'll pay whatever it's worth to
touch down in civilization."
The men in the cab glanced at each other, weighing out their reservations. The driver, a heavy, tired-looking fellow, waved him up.
RAWBONE WAS PERCHED upon the flatbed right behind the open cab.
He was neither a tall man nor powerful. On the contrary, he was lean
to the point of gauntness and his eyes were the color of some coming
"So," he said, tapping his knuckles against one of the lashed crates,
"what are ya carrying?"
"The makings of an icehouse to be built in El Paso that was wrongly
shipped to Sierra Blanca."
From his frayed coat Rawbone took a flask and opened it. "I'll
bet," he said, offering the men a drink, "when you first saw me you
thought I was a breath of trouble."
The man beside the driver took the flask and drank. "We had a
"Brothers," said Rawbone. "I've lived an unchristian life from
time to time for sure. You might say I've sipped at perdition more than
once." The driver drank and passed the flask back to Rawbone. "But
God has seen fit to whisper a warning."
The truck slumped and rose along that pitted road into the haze
of the desert slow and cumbersome while Rawbone, passing the flask
again so the others might drink, listened and watched as his companions commiserated and complained about the coming revolution to the
south. How with all that poverty and upheaval the Mex were now
crossing the border in woeful numbers to steal jobs and insinuate themselves into the well-being of a culture that despised them. Them, with
their fleshy skin and stinkin' food and brown filth and guttery lifestyle
that harbored deficiencies and crime, them who meant to leech on the
nation like a storm of poison.