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A Tale from the Wild West; Part 4 Tanner Hears a Song

Updated on August 30, 2011

Tanner had checked on the Mare after leaving Matt that night. He sliced an apple that he had borrowed from miss Jessie’s larder and fed it to the watchful horse.”It was good that those boys put the horse up” he thought “She is fully signed in for the duration now.” Tanner looked over the Mare critically. The boys had done a proper job. The roans dark coloring shimmered in the darkness, her eyes were alert, but he could see she was tired.”Hell, so am I” he reflected and so, he called it a night.

The next morning, after a cowboy breakfast he helped the other men break in the two horses Matt had mentioned the night before. Done by noon, Matt offered Tanner the day’s pay that he had promised. Tanner declined as Matt knew he would.

Tanner said “Have not been up to the Tank in quite a spell. Changed much?

Matt replied “It’s gotten very green my friend, quite a little town , a hotel and everything.

Tanner was surprised at this. “Where is the money coming from?’ he asked.

‘Prospectors, I reckon” Matt said “You heading that way?

Tanner nodded. Matt said “Come up by the house afore ya leave. My wife will have a bundle for ya.”

Tanner ate his dinner with the men, gathered his gear onto the Mare and rode up to Matt’s house.

Matt came out thru his front door as Tanner got near.

“Bill Turner” Tanner said.

“That’s the fella “said Matt “Good man” Matt continued “But there is some that is there, that ain’t. You best be careful in who you talking to Tanner. You setting on a keg of dynamite, son.

Tanner was surprised by this outburst and just stared at Matt.

Matt shrugged and looked away “Just saying” he said.

Right then Matt’s wife banged thru her kitchen door. She strode towards the two men carrying what looked like a red and white checkered table cloth. “Just take it” Matt muttered.

Miss Jessie thrust the bundle up to Tanner. He saw that the cloth had been cleverly stitched to make a sort of saddlebag and draped the bag in front of his saddle. “Take from one side, then the other and it should stay centered” Miss Jessie said.

“Thank you kindly Mam’” Tanner smiled at the woman.

“I know about your Quest, god speed and good luck” she said taking Tanners hand. She shook his hand like a man would and spun around striding back to the house.

Matt and Tanner made arrangements to meet in Tanque Verde the next evening and shook hands.

Tanner headed the Mare away from the house and trotted off. By the edifice that declared this ranch the lazy S, Tanner turned around and waved towards the house. He could just make out Matt waving back and Miss Jessie waving a red and white checkered cloth by her kitchen door. He saw his old horse Moonbeam and waved goodby to him too. He left the ranch in a thoughtful mood.

On the way to Tanque Verde Tanner got more and more enthused on the idea. He and the Mare were making good time and the afternoon heat was offset some by the breeze coming from dead ahead. “At least I’m not choking on doggie dust” he thought.”Maybe I’ll get spruced up a little, if this town is half as big as Matt made it out to be. Might even get me a new shirt. After all, a man can’t go calling on miss Elva Barr looking like a tumble weed.”

Tanner rode into town around dusk. Looking around Tanner decided to house the Mare in a stable.

“You’re my wildest and most pampered animal to date” he told the horse “Don’t get used to it”

After seeing to his horse Tanner decided to walk about town and loose the kinks from the trail. He hardly recognized the town he remembered. There was a brand new hotel as advertised. Plus a couple of dry goods stores, a barbershop, even a chinee laundry. There was a lot more people too, and it being a Friday, there was a festive mood in the air. Tanner did recall a cantina he had spent time in before and decided to drop in and wet his whistle.

Tanner heard a guitar strumming as he approached. The bar itself was just a small little adobe. Thru the years people had added roofs going every which way from it. The practice was to gradually move from one side of the adobe to the other as the day progressed Tanner recollected. He noted some new additions to the roof. Tanner picked a table deep in the back and settled himself, his back to the wall facing the town square. A pretty Mexican girl took his order and returned with a cool beer and some kind of nuts in a bowl. “Boca” she said and set the nuts by him.

Tanner relaxed and thought things through. There was a number of things he wanted to do in this town he decided. Matts suggestion was a good one even if Bill Turner didn’t have much to offer. Just have to consider the right way to go about things he thought.

The guitar had been added by a voice. A young Mexican boy was singing some sort of ballad in English.

Tanner listened a bit and doubted the boy even spoke English, still his voice was high and clear and pleasant to listen to on this warm evening. Suddenly Tanner focused in on the words

"On the day they killed Guerena, when his fingers had gone slack

They found the Colt right there beside him, never had the hammer back"

Tanner stood up and looked over at the boy singer. The boy was paying no attention, lost in the cadence of the song. Tanner repositioned his chair and sat back down. The boy continued

"people out in Pima, they ain't talking very much

You can feel the fear they're feeling under Sheriff's scary touch"


"There are those who live in Pima who jist shrug and say he's gone

But again there are those others, who grimly smile and say that's wrong

He's living on in every soldier, every husband, father, son

Standing up for fallen heroes, felled by Sheriff's hired guns"

The song ended and the small group around the guitar softly showed their appreciation, the boy beamed happily. Tanner strode over and slapped a gold piece on the table. “Sing it again” he said

The boy’s eyes grew huge when he saw the money. He looked from Tanner to the older man playing the guitar. They spoke in Spanish and the boy nodded eagerly. The man said to Tanner “Yes sir, we will play”. Tanner returned to his seat and the guitar player moved closer to him.

The boy, warmed up after just singing the song and with an obviously appreciative and well paying customer was ready to give it his best. The guitar strummed it’s mournful opening and the boy began to sing;

"Jose Guerena was a soldier, and he served his country well

Till he came back home to Pima, where they blew him straight to Hell

But Diablo would not take him; "Nope," he said, "Not one of mine."

So Jose now walks the Heavens, making sure his family's fine"


No one knows jist why they did it; no one ever understood

But there's a Sheriff out in Pima whose kill ratio is not good

On the day they killed Guerena, when his fingers had gone slack

They found the Colt right there beside him, never had the hammer back


Some say it was assassination when they gunned Guerena down

An entire squad of Sheriff's deputies, fired more than sixty rounds

He left behind a pretty widow and two young sons, who to this day

Wonder why they lost their Daddy, in such a cruel and violent way


Jose Guerena was no outlaw; he never robbed a single bank

Every newsman in the country knew Guerena's killing stank

Yet the people out in Pima, they ain't talking very much

You can feel the fear they're feeling under Sheriff's scary touch


There are those who live in Pima who jist shrug and say he's gone

But again there are those others, who grimly smile and say that's wrong

He's living on in every soldier, every husband, father, son

Standing up for fallen heroes, felled by Sheriff's hired guns".

The whole cantina applauded when the song was through. Tanner was dumbfounded. A song about that night. He shook his head. The guitar player saw this and asked “Did you not like the song senor? Tanner considered “The song is fine . It is the event I do not like” He ordered a round for those clustered around him and began to question the boy through the guitar player. The boy had first heard the song in Juarez of all places from an older Mexican.”Very old” said the boy “antiqua.” He had never heard the story in Spanish, did not know what half the words in English meant. Finally Tanner cut them loose.

It just keeps getting stranger and stranger he thought. He left to go check on his horse.

A comment on Comments;

I am not the best moderator. I space out into the ether for long periods.

I will respond eventually. This Hub;

started by Ghost 32, has been following the Jose Guerena atrocity from the beginning and is still an active hub, I highly recommend it.

I am primarily interested in the ways and means in which to change the system that allowed his death with Zero accountability for those involved. Links to good websites with pertinent information or information about good candidates willing to take a stand, will be greatly appreciated. That all being said, if you care to comment about anything, please write whatever you want.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Keep it up, Brother. Voted up and everything but funny, which it sure as Hell ain't.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good continuation. I am looking forward to more.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Write on!, 50


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