She Was Born

She was born a free spirit.

She was the most beautiful woman in all the world.

Her name was Maria.

She touched me . . . she loved me.

I was not worthy of her love.

But she loved me nonetheless.

Then one dark night she was taken from me.

It’s now early morning.

I awake because of the sound.

The scream.

The horror.

But dreams can fool you.

I am alone.

It was I who found her body.

Her dead eyes looked into mine, but she did not see me.

I beheld her broken body, but it was not the woman I had loved.

Her essence had fled to another part of the universe … to another realm

I retrieve my gun and go in search of the man who had killed her.

He’s where I knew him to be.

I raise the gun and stick the barrel into his ear.

His brains spray out.

His blood forms a red mist that floats in the air … for a brief moment.

He’s gone.

Good … very good.

But his death does not bring back my Maria.

Now I will join her.

The gun barrel feels right in my mouth.

I pull back the hammer.

My hand is on the trigger.

My mind is on Maria,

I squeeze the trigger.

I am no more … until my essence is reborn.

Maria will find me.

Love is like that.



Here’s the follow-up to the Everything’s Jake story.

It’s two hours before dawn, moonlight shafts in through the open window. In a darkened corner, deep in the shadows, sits a woman. She has been sitting there for hours. She looks toward the bed. Lying on the bed is a man, a big man. The woman is crying, the man is snoring, and they are waiting. The man does not know that he is waiting … but he is.

What a mess I’ve made of things, thinks the woman. She recalls back five years when she was just a seventeen-year-old girl in Two Mule, Kansas. Back then her favorite saying was, “This may be Two Mule, but it’s a one-horse town as far as I’m concerned.”

Then the big man came to town; he was handsome in a rugged sort of way. Jeanie took one look at him and knew that he was her ticket to freedom. At that thought, Jeanie has to laugh. Freedom! I haven’t had a free day since I left home. But she did not know what was in store for her then. At the time, all she wanted was to get away, and Mac was only too happy to oblige her.

He told her he would take her to Chicago, maybe even New York. But when they left, in the middle of the night, they headed west. He told her he needed a grubstake and was going to do a little panning for gold. But Mac did his panning with a knife.

They would wander into a gold camp, set up his tent, and Mac would pretend to pan during the day, always out of sight of the others. What he did was mostly drink and sleep. However, at night as the men sat around the fire, he would ascertain the man with the biggest poke, as he listened to their talk.

After two or three days, when he had picked out his target, he would creep into the man’s tent as he slept, slit his throat, and take his dust. Then he and Jeanie would hightail it out there. When you traveled with Mac Conway, you were always leaving places in the middle of the night. And tonight, thought Jeanie, as she sat in her corner, will be no different. Mac, you’ll be leaving in the night, but not with me … not this time.

It wasn’t long before Jeanie cottoned to what Mac was doing. That didn’t bother her too much, but what stuck in her craw was the fact that Mac had no intention of taking her to Chicago or anywhere else but two-bit tank towns. That’s when she first ran away from him.

As he lay passed out, dead drunk, she had lifted his purse and what dust she could find. Her big mistake—if you don’t count her not killing him outright—was leaving his horse.

He had caught up with her pretty fast and gave her a good beating to teach her not to do anything like that again. He said, as he beat her, “You belong to me and if you ever leave me again, I’ll kill ya!” It was then that Jeanie knew she would need the help of a man if she was going to escape Mac.

It was fourteen months before she found the right man; at least he seemed right at the time. Jake was full of talk of all the places he’d been. He said he was passing through town on his way to California where he was going to buy a ranch and raise cattle.

Once she had Jake picked out, she worked on him when Mac wasn’t around.

“You’re not afraid of him, are you?”

“No, of course not.”

“Then you’re the man for me. We can be one hundred miles gone before he even misses me. And don’t worry; he’ll be glad to be quit of me.”

However, after they left and word got around that Mac was looking for them, Jake started to go to pieces. He was always looking over his shoulder and saying things like, “How far back you reckon Mac is?” Or, “I don’t think we’d better stay here more than a day. Mac could be close by.” It was enough to drive a person crazy, thought Jeanie as she sat in her chair, in the corner, in the dark.

After eight months of Jake jumping at every bump in the night and loud noise during the day, she’d had enough of his frightened ways and started to play the piano player, no pun intended. Well … perhaps some pun intended.

The beautiful thing about Señor Piano Player was that he didn’t know of Mac, but Mac soon found out about him. When Mac finally caught up with her and the piano player, he didn’t beat her, he did not kill her, he simply told her she was responsible for the death of two men. He took great joy in telling her how Jake Tapper had died. So, two men were now dead and she was still with Mac.

If she was to get away, she would have to take care of things herself.

It was now a month later and they were in a new town. Mac came in every night roaring drunk. Some nights he would ravage her; other nights he’d just pass out. That is what gave her the idea.

She could have lifted his gun out of the holster as he slept. It was always hanging from the bedpost at night. And she could have pulled back the hammer, placed the barrel in his ear, and squeezed the trigger. But, that is not a woman’s way. And besides, she would most likely be hung for murder if she did it that way.

That afternoon, she had gone to McGuire’s Emporium and bought a bottle of laudanum, which is also known as tincture of opium. Before she left, she asked Mr. McGuire how much was safe to take.

“One tablespoon is alright, two if you are in a lot of pain.”

“How much is dangerous?”

“It depends on body weight.”

“What would happen if I drank half the bottle?”

“You would go to sleep and die.”

“Thank you, Mr. McGuire.”

“Good day, Jeanie. Say hello to Mac for me.”

Like everyone else in town, McGuire was fearful of Mac Conway.

Jeanie returned to the hotel, and before heading upstairs, stopped at the bar to buy a bottle of Mac’s favorite whiskey.

When she was alone in the confines of her room, she poured half the contents of the whiskey bottle into the wash basin. She then uncorked the laudanum and poured all of it into the bottle. Laudanum has a bitter taste. Jeanie was hoping Mac’s inebriation and the whiskey would mask the taste.

That night, Mac slammed opened the door when he returned, he was drunk as usual. As he reached for her, she said, “Hello, lover. Let’s have a drink first.”

Jeanie knew that Mac never declined an invitation for libation. She went to the table and poured a portion of the doctored liquid into a glass. Mac, as she knew he would, grabbed the bottle from her and took a healthy swallow. Well … it would have been a healthy swallow if not for the laudanum.

She was able to keep away from him until the bottle was empty, then she guided him to the bed where he sat for a moment, his head hung low, before he fell backwards and passed out.

That had been hours ago. Now Jeanie sat and waited—waited for the son-of-a-bitch to die. Just before sunrise, the snoring stopped. She hesitated for only a moment before going over to the bed. She had to know.

Yes, he was dead.

Before leaving the room, she went through his pockets and took anything of value. Then she went out to meet the rising sun.

Cornbread and Beans

Been livin’ off cornbread and beans for a while now

Been livin’ off cornbread and beans

Ain’t gonna be treated this way no more

Ain’t gonna be treated this way

Gonna do somethin’ about it, right quick

Gonna do somethin’ about it

Gonna git my gun, my big ol’ .44

Gonna git my gun

Gonna find me the overseer, gonna shoot him down

Gonna find me the overseer

The man done took my wages for being slow

The man done took my dignity

The man’s gonna die, this fine day

The man’s gonna die

Oh yeah, the man’s gonna die

Then I’ll be free to eat my fill of steaks and potatoes

Then I’ll be free

Lord, I’ve tried to git along

Lord, I’ve tried

Now the man’s gonna die

I’m gonna sing and dance on his grave

I’m gonna sing and dance

I ain’t gonna eat no more cornbread and beans, not never again

I ain’t gonna eat no more cornbread and beans


Night Moves

They are always with me. At times they appear out of the ethereal mist, and other times they speak directly to my mind. I wish they would leave me to myself, but that they will not do. No, first I must do their bidding.

They come in the night and stay until the black sky fades to gray. When the stars leave the sky and the clouds to the east turn pink, I am allowed my rest. But I ask you, what respite can a murderer have? At their behest, I have killed again this night. And I will continue to kill until they go back from whence they came.

After all I’ve been through, I still remember the first time they came to me. It was a little over a year ago, and since then I have killed twenty-nine people. Please do not think me insane. I assure you these beings are real and not immanent. At first, I, too, thought myself demented when they stood before me telling me they came to save the human race, and to accomplish their mission, certain people must die. They explained that the demise of the race was not impending, but if action was not taken, and taken soon, it would be too late to set things on a course to ensure the continuance of mankind.

You are probably wondering, if you do not think me crazed, why they cannot do their own dirty work. That is a very good question and one I have asked them. They, of course, are not of our time and space. They appear—when they appear—as diaphanous specters; they cannot manipulate physical matter. Thus, I have become their instrument here on earth. Where or when they are from, I do not know. And why, out of all the billions on this planet, I was chosen, I know not. But it has been a long night and I must sleep. I will continue this at a later date, and continue it I shall, for I want there to be a record of my actions and the reasons for them.

I am back. It has been two days since my last entry in this journal, and tonight they had me kill again. That makes thirty people—thirty innocent people … men, women, and children—I have dispatched from this world. Yes … I am sorry to say that they have had me kill children. However, I was told that after tonight there would be no more need of my services. The human race was safe for the foreseeable future.

I refer to my tormentors as they or them because I do not know what they call themselves. Their form is vaguely human … two arms, two legs, and a head of sorts atop a torso, but their gossamer appearance precludes calling them human.

Tonight’s victim was a man in Moscow. I was directed to him and given his name. I then set about their business. I was told that his son, yet unborn, would one day invent something that would cause the death of billions. Being told the basis for this particular death was a departure from the norm. I had never been given rhyme nor reason for any of the others. The man’s name and the names of the other twenty-nine, including where and when they died, are in the addendum attached to this missive. I remember every one of my quarry.

I guess I should have mentioned this earlier, but my victims were scattered around the world. I do not know how they did it, but one minute I was in my room behind a locked door, and the next minute I was standing in a foreign locale with the name of that night’s victim swirling through my brain. Then into my mind came the place I could find him or her in the city, town, or hamlet.

Now, the thirty-first person will die. They, at last, have left me to myself. I am now free to end this the only way it can be ended—with my death. I’ve been saving and hiding my medication for quite a while now; there is enough to kill three of me. May God have mercy on my soul.

I affix my hand to this document this 3rd day of May in the year of our Lord 2017.


Francis Fitzgerald


When Dr. Allen had finished reading the above, he turned to Dr. Harris and said, “Interesting, but why have you brought it to me? We both know that the man was a certified, delusional schizophrenic. How long have we had him here at our institution?”

Dr. Harris hesitantly answered, “He’s been here at Oakwood twelve years, sir.”

“Well, there you have it. It’s too bad he took his own life; it doesn’t help our reputation any, but these things happen.”

“Yes, sir. However, there is something I think you ought to know.”


“I’ve taken the liberty of investigating a few of the names on Fitzgerald’s list. It’s taken me three weeks, but I’ve verified eleven of the deaths and their time and place. They all correspond with what Fitzgerald has written.”

Dr. Allen straightened in his seat, glanced at the papers in his hand, and looking Dr. Harris in the eye, forcefully said, “Preposterous! If there is any correlation, he read of the deaths in the newspaper or heard of them on the television.”

“Excuse me, sir, but Fitzgerald had no access to newspapers. He was denied them because they would agitate him to no end. And the only television he had access to was in the day room where the set is perpetually tuned to a movie channel.”

“That still does not give credence to this fairytale,” said Dr. Allen, waving the Fitzgerald papers in Dr. Harris’ direction.

“No, sir, it does not. However, there is one more thing I think I should make you aware of. My sister is married to a Russian physicist, speaks fluent Russian, and lives in Moscow. I called her about the last name on Fitzgerald’s list. She made a few calls for me and it turns out that Fitzgerald was dead before the body of the man he mentions was discovered. And just one more thing, sir. The man’s wallet was found in Fitzgerald’s room. I have it if you’d like to see it.”

Turning a color red that is not in the regular spectrum, Dr. Allen shouted, “NO! I DO NOT WANT TO SEE THE DAMN WALLET!” Then handing the Fitzgerald papers to Dr. Harris, he said with ice in his voice, “Burn these, burn them now. And if you value your position here at Oakwood, you will never speak of this matter again … to anyone. Do I make myself clear?”

Dr. Harris accepted the papers with a meek, “Yes sir,” and walked out of the room. When he was in the hall and by himself, he muttered, “I’ll be goddamned … the old bastard is afraid.”

But Dr. Harris did not burn the papers. He placed them, along with the wallet, in his desk drawer and locked it. He had some thinking to do. As he started on his rounds, a quote of Shakespeare’s kept repeating itself in his head. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”


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Nobody Knows


Nobody knows . . . nobody sees . . . nobody knows but me.

Ten years ago, I saw her for the first time. She was tall . . . she was the most beautiful thing I have even seen. She was blond. She was all female. She was to be my destruction.

I loved every minute of her.

Her name was Molly.

She took my soul.

She took my body.

Nobody knows.

Nobody knows but me.

How she made me feel.

She brought things out of me.

She made my chest … my inner self

Feel so warm.

I loved her.

She was my life.

Nobody knows but me …

Nobody knows but me ….

why I had to kill her

Nobody knows but me.

She took up with another

She left me

When I asked her to come back to me

She laughed

At me

Now she is dead

And I miss her so much

Nobody knows

Nobody knows but me

Where her body is buried

Nobody knows

How I cry over her grave.

Nobody knows.

Three Steps


I am three steps from meeting my maker. Three more steps to the noose. I am ready to die; I think I deserve to die. I have killed before, but never for such a frivolous reason as brings me to these last three steps.

The whole mess started down El Paso way when I walked into the cantina. It was a bucket of blood, a real dive. But I had a thirst and it was the first saloon I saw as I came into town. Once inside, it took my eyes a moment to adjust to the gloom. When I could see again, I saw a bar against the far wall with only two men at it. They had their elbows upon the bar, staring into their drinks. A few tables separated me from the bar and they were all empty. It was mid-day, so that was no surprise.

I made my way to the bar and put my foot on the rail. The barman was a little slow in coming my way. I had just rode twenty-five miles and the dust was thick in my throat. I had no patience for a slow movin’ barkeep. When he was opposite me at the bar, I grabbed his shirt and pulled his face to mine. Looking him dead in the eye I said, “Give me your finest rotgut and if you dilly-dally, I’ll put a bullet in your leg.” As I said it, I drew my .44 from its leather and pointed the barrel at his right leg. His eyes widened and he reached under the bar and came up with an almost full bottle of some good stuff. “Here mister, it’s on the house,” he said.

Now that that was taken care of, I leaned my back against the bar, and leaving the glass where it was, took a good pull from the bottle. I had rode my horse almost to death. I had to move fast, they were on my trail. I mean the posse. Yes, I had killed two men, but they were trying to kill me. I finally lost the posse in the badlands. Now I’m only a few miles from Mexico and freedom. But as it turned out, I might as well have been a million miles from the border.

I don’t know what she was doing coming into that hellhole of a bar, but when I saw her, my plans changed. She pushed through the swing doors as though she owned the place. And in a way she did. She was tall and blond. Her hair was up and her smile could kill. Her figure had more curves then a coiled rattler. Her eyes were gray and they looked my way.

She came right up to me and said, “Ain’t you the big one.”

Without a word, I took the empty glass from the bar and poured out some of the amber liquid into it. She took the proffered glass from my hand and said, “My name is Rose and I like a man that will buy a girl a drink.”

When the bottle was half-gone, she told me to grab it. Then she took me by the hand and led me to the stairs. We ascended to the second floor to a door at the far end of the hall. “This is where I call home,” she purred. By now I had forgotten about the twenty-five dust coated miles, the posse, the killings, everything.

Once in the room with the door locked, she pointed to a table and said, “You’ll find some glasses over there, pour us a shot. I went to the table and found the glasses, blew the dust out of them and did as I was told. When I turned around with the glasses in hand, she was sitting on the bed. Patting the mattress she softly said, “Come and sit by me.”

Well partners that was all she wrote. We had our booze and food sent up, and for the next three days we did not leave that room. I have never known a woman like her. I’ve mostly only been with whores, but she was no whore. She told me that she loved me. We spent three days exploring every inch of each other’s bodies and I fell in love for the first time in my life.

It was on the morning of the fourth day that my head started to clear. We were lying in bed, I was on my back and she was propped up on one elbow running her finger down my chest when she said she wanted to go to Mexico with me. I told her that was fine by me, but there was no rush. That’s when she got a funny look on her face and exclaimed, “No, we have to leave today!” Before I could say anything there was a knock on the door. I got out of bed and slipped on my pants. I knew who it was; it was the little Mex boy who had been bringing us our food and booze. I usually took the tray at the door and handed him a dollar. But this time was different. He beckoned me out into the hall and asked me to shut the door. When the door was closed behind me he whispered, “Senor, you have been good to me so I must tell you that you are in great danger.”

I took the tray from his hands and said, “Don’t worry son this is the kind of danger I like,” and winked at him.

I started to turn, but he grabbed my arm. “You do not understand. She belongs to another man, a bad man. She has done this before and three men have died. Her man will be back tomorrow, so today she will ask you to leave and take her with you. If you are here tomorrow José will kill you.”

I put the tray on the floor and asked the boy to tell me all that he knew. He told me people were making bets with each other if I’d get away before José got back or if I’d be planted up on the hill with the other three. It seems Rose, my great love, was using me to get away from José. In this country a woman can’t travel alone. And besides, the boy told me José leaves her with no money when he goes away.

The news kinda punched me in the gut. I gave the boy a five-dollar gold piece and thanked him. Picking up the tray, I entered the room with a smile on my face.

“Where have you been? I missed you big boy,” she intoned.

Still smiling, I placed the tray on the bed and told her to have some breakfast. I was going to have a drink. I had me some thinking to do.

As I sat in the chair and watched her eat, I weighed my options. We could leave together and avoid this man José, or I could leave alone. Or, we could stay and I’d have it out with José. The problem was I didn’t know if she was worth it. She had played me. If I took her with me would she ditch me once we were in Mexico?

I was still thinking on those thoughts when she broke my reverie by saying, “I want to be out of here by noon. I’m going to take a bath; you pack and then settle our bill. I’ll meet you at the livery stable.” Still smiling I answered, “I’ll see you at the livery.” She gathered up some clothes, got herself dressed and left to take her bath.

When she had gone, I sat there in thought and added another option that I could take. I could just kill the lying bitch and be done with her. What to do? What to do?

I put on my shirt and boots and went downstairs still undecided. By the time I reached the livery I had decided that I’d leave without her. She was a fine looking woman and the sex was good, but I had enough trouble and I didn’t need no crazy man after me. I saddled my pinto and started down the street at a slow pace. As I passed the saloon, Rose pushed through the swing doors and saw me. She dropped her bags and ran up, grabbed ahold of the saddle and walked along side. Looking up at me she implored, “Where you going? Wait, I’ll get my horse.”

“I’m sorry, it was nice, but this here is where we go down separate trails.”

She wouldn’t let go of the saddle, so I picked up the pace a mite. She still hung on. Then I saw her look down the street and the look on her face said it all. She let go and hightailed it back to the saloon.

I didn’t have to look, but I did. Astride a sorrel rode a big man, a big mean looking man. It had to be José. As we came abreast of each other he grabbed the reins of my horse. There we stood, eye to eye, neither one of us speaking. Finally he said in a very deep voice, “Whatcha doin’ with my woman?”

“Nothing, just trying to get outta town,” I answered.

I saw it in his eyes; he was going to draw on me. I may be slow when it comes to women, but I’m fast on the draw. I had a bullet through his forehead before he cleared leather. That was my mistake, that and taking up with Rose. I should have let him draw first. The whole thing was seen by the town marshal and I was quickly arrested. I thought for a moment of killing the marshal before he arrested me, but I never did kill no man that was not trying to kill me.

For three days I knew of love. In three steps I die.



It was an inauspicious beginning to a glorious ending.

His name was Jimmy Diaz; he hailed from America, but he had been kicking around Columbia for almost a decade. He had come to the country to hunt emeralds. He thought it would be a cinch to go out in the boonies, scratch at the earth and come up with a handful of emeralds. However, it did not work out that way. He shortly came to the realization that his dream was not going to materialize.

Now, after ten years of doing odd jobs, working as a laborer, doing anything he could to earn his daily bread, including stealing his daily bread, Jimmy was a bit dejected. He had a crop of prematurely gray hair, the few pesos in his pocket and no future. He didn’t mind the hair. And he certainly didn’t mind the pesos. It was the lack of a future that Jimmy was thinking of on the day it all began.

He was walking on the outskirts of a small town, a town that he could not find work in, when he saw the bank. Like the town it was  small, but a bank is a bank. And as Willie Sutton once famously said, “That’s where the money is.”

Jimmy stopped walking and sat down in the shade of a large tree. He had to give this some thought. After a while, he came up with a plan to enhance his prospects of a future. He would rob the bank, but not having a gun was problematic. So he gave it some more thought and in a few minutes, he smiled to himself, stood up and marched right into the building.

There were only three people in the bank. A man behind a desk that Jimmy assumed was the manager and two tellers behind old-fashioned teller cages; the kind with the bars on them and a small opening to slide the money though.

As he approached the manager’s desk, the man saw how Jimmy was dressed and (correctly) thinking him a peasant, was about to ask him to leave the premises. But before he could utter a syllable, Jimmy ensconced himself in a chair in front of the desk and said, “We have your children and if I’m not back to where they are being held in one hour’s time they will be harmed.” Jimmy had no idea if the man had children or not, but Columbia being a Catholic country, he thought it a safe bet that the man had many children.

The man turned rather pale and in a pleading voice said, “No . . . no, anything you want!” What Jimmy wanted was all the money in the vault.

“But senor, we have no vault, only the safe that sits over in the corner,” the man said while pointing to his right.

Jimmy shrugged and told the manager that would do nicely. He envisioned the safe chock full of crisp new pesos. However, when the manager opened the safe, there stood two lonely packets of old worn out bills. Jimmy shook his head and asked if that was all the money in the bank.

“Si, except for a few pesos in the teller cages,” answered the man. He hastily added, “We are but a poor bank.” Jimmy being the optimist that he was thought that at least the pesos would buy him a car to get from town to town and he wouldn’t have to walk anymore.

As he put the cash in his pockets, he reminded the man that if he did not make it back in time, the children would suffer. He added, “So don’t call the police.” And without further ado, Jimmy Diaz walked out of that rural bank a much happier and richer man than he had been an hour earlier. He had no escape plan, but he knew he could avoid capture by losing himself in the forest. After all, he had an hour’s head start. The manager would not call the police for at least an hour.

Jimmy had told the man not to call the police, but he said nothing about calling home. And that is exactly what the manager did the moment Jimmy was out the door. Of course, his wife told him all the children were safe and accounted for. The manager’s next call was to the police.

It was five minutes after having left the bank that Jimmy heard the siren. It was a small town and it had only the one police car. He ducked off the road and into a strand of trees just before the cop passed by.

Damn it! thought Jimmy.

There was nothing else to do but stay off the road, stick to the woods and get as far away from the little town as possible. That was Jimmy’s new and improved plan.


 Meanwhile, ten kilometers to the north, and little higher up the mountain, another little drama was playing out.

Paul Dix and Andy Stein were expatriated Americans. They were also bandits, but they were professional bandits. They robbed banks, stores, people, whatever was available. They would take the gold outta your teeth if wasn’t such hard work. Hell, they’d rob the livestock if the damn cows had any pesos. But one thing they did not do was rob anywhere in the vicinity of the town they called home. They needed a safe refuge for when things went south. Things seldom went south for Paul and Andy, but if they did, it was nice to know you had a hidey-hole to dive into.

The reason they felt safe in their adopted hometown was that they paid off the police. It wasn’t too expensive; there were only two of them. The chief, Juan Marciel, and his stooge, Hector Fernandez. And besides, it was the cost of doing business.

The drama alluded to above came about because the police chief demanded a bigger cut of the proceeds. To discuss the matter, the four came together in the woods where Chief Marciel maintained a small cabin to entertain certain ladies that his wife knew nothing about. The four business partners were not in the cabin proper; they stood outside its front door. Soon the discussion became heated, so heated in fact that all four drew their guns. It was a Mexican standoff. No, it was a Columbian standoff.

Juan and Hector’s hands shook. Andy and Jim’s did not. There they stood; four men and not one of them had any compunction about killing another human being. It was only a matter of who would blink first, or maybe it was a matter of who would shoot first.

“We’re not giving you crooked cops one more damn peso!” shouted Paul. Then said in a more sedate voice, “Throw your guns down and live to see another day.”

The cops blinked first. They tossed their guns on the ground and then looked at the Americans, as if asking, What now?

Andy answered their unasked question. “We’re leaving this hell-hole of a town and you won’t see us again. You boys got off lucky today, so don’t press your luck, vamoose while you can still vamoose.”

The two cops turned and started walking towards the town, but after a few steps, the chief turned and drew a two shot derringer out of the pocket of his pants. He yelled, “Fuck you gringos.” And then he died. Andy shot him four times before ‘ol Juan could get off a shot. Hector was nowhere to be seen. He played it smart that day.

“Well, what the hell do we do now that you killed the damn cop?” asked Paul.

“It was either us or him. But to answer your question, we get the hell outta here. By now Hector is on the phone to the National Police,” responded Andy.

They had to leave their stash, all the money they had in the world, in town. It wasn’t really their money, but they considered it as such. They headed up the mountain because they would be expected to go down the mountain to the road below.

Three hours later, their path crossed with Jimmy Diaz’s path.


Jimmy was pretty worn out. He had been hiking up the mountain for hours. His only thought: to put distance between himself and whomever was looking for him. So he did not hear the men as they approached. The first inkling he had that he was not alone on that mountain was when he stumbled and fell. As he started to get up he looked into the barrel of the biggest gun he had ever seen. He had never seen a gun up close before, but when you are staring into the business end of one, it is the biggest goddamn gun in the world.

There were two of them. The one not holding the gun asked, “Are you following us?”

What? thought Jimmy.

Then the one with the gun said, “Paul, how can he be following us? He came in from the opposite direction. At those words, Jimmy took hope into his heart. He might not be shot in the next two minutes.

“Doesn’t matter,” said Paul, “we’re on the run. The Policía Nacional are most likely closing in on us right at this moment.”

“Hey guys, I’m an American just like you. I just robbed a bank and I’ve got cops chasing me too! So let’s join forces and get away from the cops together.”

These words did not have the desired effect that Jimmy had hoped for.

Paul said, “See, I told you. This motherfucker is leading the cops to us.”

Andy, being the calmer of the two said, “It’s not his fault. Let’s just keep on moving.”

As the two bandits started back up the mountain, Jimmy got up off the ground and said, “I have money. Take me with you and you can have half of it.” Then he took the two packets of pesos out of his pockets to show them to Paul and Andy.

Paul whirled, and raised his gun. Andy stepped between Paul and Jimmy and said, “My friend, do you really want to kill a fellow American that is in the same boat as us?”

Paul lowered his gun and said, “Fuck you.” But he said it with a smile. The three banditos then went up the mountain together, and to temporary safety.


Jimmy didn’t know it, but no one was looking for him, not the local cops, not the National Police, not even a lonely dog just looking for love. Nobody. But on the other hand, Paul and Andy had half the National Police from the Santander Province out looking for them. Hector had told them that they were the infamous Banditos Americanos. And to top it off, they had killed a police officer. Their bacon was fried, their goose was cooked, and they were toast as far as the Policía Nacional were concerned. But first the police had to find them. Then they would fry their bacon and cook their goose. No trial, just a fusillade of bullets. However, there would be no cooking or frying on that day. The three men made it over the mountain and started down the other side.

Soon they came to rail line, the tracks looked inviting. There would be no pesky traffic, some of which might be the police. And besides, they could hear a train coming from a long way off. Then they could scamper for cover well in advance of being seen.

By the time it was getting dark, they came to a town serviced by the railroad, which meant at some point in time a train would stop. It was decided that they would hole up there for the night and hope a train stopped before the police came. The plan was to make their get-a-way by train. Jimmy was detailed to go into the town and buy food while Andy and Paul hid out.

It was a long night and none of the three got very much sleep. But in the early morning, just before sunrise, the horn of a train sounded. It was hoped that the train would stop. It must have been known by now that the desperados went up the mountain and not down. The police would soon be swarming about.

Their prayers were answered, if indeed God answers the prayers of bandits, and the train stopped. Not a whole train, just an engine and a flat car attached. But it was all that was needed. The bandits watch as the engineer climbed down and walked to a shed adjoining the tracks. It was a woman!

“Do either of you guys know how to drive a train,” asked Jimmy.

“No,” answered Paul.

“Do you,” inquired Andy.

“Nope,” was Jimmy’s response.

It was decided that they would have to wait for the woman to come back, and then they would jump on the flat car as the train was pulling out. They did not have long to wait. As the car pulled out, the three left their place of hiding and one by one they jumped aboard.

They made their way to the engine. Paul was the first to enter the cab, followed by Andy and bringing up the rear, Jimmy. Paul had his gun out and pointed it at the engineer. “Don’t panic,” he said, “we will not hurt you.” To his surprise, the woman smiled.

“I know who you are,” she said. “you are the Banditos Americanos,” She continued: “Half the country is looking for you. And the other half is rooting for you to get away. But I thought there were only two of you.”

“Never mind how many we are,” said Paul “just tell us what half of the country you fall into.”

The woman spat on the floor and said, “I hate the police! “

Paul lowered his gun and smiled. Then turning to Andy he said, “Looks like we got us a ride.”

The short of it was that the woman told them to sit on the floor so they couldn’t be seen. They passed three towns and there were police at every crossing. The engineer waved at the police and they waved back. Because it was obvious she was the only one on the train, they had no interest in her or her train.

The train started to slow and Andy asked what was up. “At the next town I must stop and there might be police there. You should get off now. I have taken you outside their perimeter, you should be safe enough. Go with God mi amigos.”

When she and the train were gone Jimmy asked, “What do we do now?”

“What we do,” said Andy “is head north. Bogota is to the north, it’s a big city. We can get lost there.”

The Banditos were never seen again. They became the stuff of legend. It is said that they live in the mountains and only come out at night to rob the unsuspecting. Every robbery in the province is attributed to El Banditos Americanos. Parents scare their children into being good by telling them that the Banditos will take them away in the night if they do not behave.  However, the bandits do not live in the mountains, they no longer rob and they don’t steal children. This is what happened to El Banditos Americanos.

About an hour after leaving the train, they were going through some dense underbrush and Jimmy was having a tough time keeping up. Paul was leading the way and kept up the pace hoping to lose Jimmy. He and Andy were partners, they needed no one else. Andy, for his part only wanted to get to the big city and was ambivalent about Jimmy now that they had gotten over the mountain and through the police blockade. So Jimmy fell farther and farther behind. But not so far behind that he could not hear the two up ahead.

Then he heard screams and shouting. Then there was gunfire. Jimmy hunkered down and did not move. Hours later he ventured to continue on. He soon came to a small clearing and there on the ground were the mortal remains of Andy and Paul. They had been shot and then hacked to bits with machetes. They had the misfortune to have run into a band of men working for the local drug lord, and thinking Paul and Andy were the police, the drug guys killed them.

Jimmy made the sign of the cross and continued on. He eventually made it to Bogota after a few more adventures along the way that do not merit telling here. Suffice it to say that by the time he hit Bogota, he was a changed man. At  the American embassy he secured a passport after proving he was an American citizen by turning in his old passport, which he always carried with him. And with his ill-gotten gains from the bank heist, he bought an airline ticket back to the States.

Jimmy Diaz now lives in Florida, the city is not important. He is married and has two daughters. Oh, and a cat and two Cocker Spaniels. He does not have to work nowadays because on his way to Bogota he stumbled onto a field with part of a large emerald sticking up out of the dirt. He spent two weeks digging up more emeralds and when he had all that he could carry, he stopped digging and resumed his trek to Bogota. When he hit the big city he sold his emeralds and deposited the money in a local bank, telling the bank manager that he would be receiving instructions for a wire transfer soon. When Jimmy hit the States he opened a local bank account with the last of the money from his bank robbery. He then had his $387,589.00 wired up from Columbia.