Deep in the Heart of Texas
by Robert Travieso
They are highly skilled, and have begun scaling the fortress walls using only their natural dexterity, their wiles, and various ancient Mayan reconnaissance contraptions such as baby elk-antler grappling hooks, and moccasins steeped in raw sugar cane, ribbled with bits of broken glass.
The day has not yet broken and all is black and quiet. The cattle in the distance huddle against the cool of the night. A pack of horseflies flit about without meaning or purpose. A pair of rattlesnakes make frantic, unapologetic love amid the prairie sage.
Davy Crockett sits scratching himself, slothful and unawares, cross-legged and naked on his bed mat, alone among the living of the world. His belly hangs imperiously over a bulk of good Mexican bambalacha laid out in the nest of his overturned cap. He begins meticulously removing stems, seeds and bramble from the bambalacha, making sure not to rouse his bedmate, the arrogant and famed knifeman, Jim Bowie.
Bowie, slumbering, dreams of stabbing.
The Mexicans pour over the rampart in great waves, with bandoliers across their chests and enormous, well-built, bone-handled daggers in their mouths.
It is almost dawn. The horseflies descend upon the wakening flesh of the cattle. The intertwined rattlesnakes pulse along the scaled lengths of their bodies, hurrying towards climax before the encroachment of the sun.
Crockett enthusiastically packs the aperture at the end of his bugle with a clump of bambalacha the size of a newborn babyís head, improving the plug by tamping down with his fist, testing the tightness of the seal by blowing softly into the mouthpiece, rearranging the thicket slightly to allow wisps of air to seep through.
Bowie stirs, grunts, clutches his knife, nearly wakes, rolls over, dreams of a river filled with bloodthirsty alligators. Grappling, stabbing them all. Crockett caresses his husbandís face tenderly with the back of his hand, smoothing away the stray hairs of his handlebar mustache, sending him gently back towards sleep.
The Mexicans abseil into the interior of the Alamo along ropes attached to their grappling hooks, their bladed moccasins gripping and shivering along the bricked adobe. A number of the less athletic soldiers sprain or break their ankles as they leap from the ends of their ropes, letting out abbreviated, instinctual shrieks of pain and astonishment, in spite of their extensive training. But the rush of soldiers continues unabated, and the cries of the crumpled and wounded amplify as more and more Mexicans, too many to count or comprehend, drop from their ropes, land as gently as possible onto the backs of their compadres, and steal away towards the barracks.
Morning ascends with light and heat. The horseflies dodge the swishing tails of the cattle and the rattlesnakes stay in rhythm and perfect concert.
Crockett puts the heavied bugle to his mouth, sparks the bambalacha with a candleís flame, huffs inward as if taken by surprise, blows moist blue smoke in a concentrated cloud, then drops his chin until it rests on his chest.
Bowie is awakened and sexually aroused by the screams of the injured Mexicans. He grabs the bugle from his loverís slow, satisfied hands and attempts to signal a warning, but the wadded bambalacha blocks all sound. He re-tightens his lips and redoubles his efforts, at last blasting the clarion call, sending the incidental embered gob across the lamplit room.
Crockett, momentarily revitalized, berates Bowie and begins scouring the room for his stash.
Inside the Alamo the Texans rouse themselves and prepare to war.
The Mexicans shout now with frenzy and readiness and delight and are deep inside.
Texans emerge in bands of two and three and are run through with dagger blades. Their blood warms the red clay floor. Hands fumble with last bullets and muskets and are overwhelmed.
Why do the cattle not turn from the horde? What makes the serpents writhe for so long?
Bowie enters the fray, enraged, enshrouded in fringed buckskin, savage, extremely butch, still enormously aroused. Many Mexicans feel the cold of his eponymous knife as they respectfully line up to fight the great anglo warrior one by one by one.
Crockett, desperately confused, does not join the fight, finding solace instead under a small workbench in the corner of his room, pulling his coonskin low to cover his ears, quickly sending bugleful after bugleful of smoke into his lungs, drifting softly, silently, shamefully to sleep with his thumb stuck fast into the side of his mouth, and his index finger wrapped protectively across the bridge of his beak.
More Mexicans spring forward through the splayed gates of the Alamo.
Bowie falls to his knees but does not die, makes his way under the rampage and gore back to the room, pushes through the barricaded door, sees Crockett asleep and dreaming under the workbench, takes out his blood-hot knife, sharpens its blade against the leather of his fine-tooled belt, drags his worn body across the floor, slides his finely fringed tight buckskin pants over his hips and down past his thighs, grabs dazed Crockett and holds him in his arms, kisses his neck, kisses his innocent belly, calls to the sky, calls to his gods, calls to the Mexican warriors outside the shivering door, turns Crockett face down against the red dirt floor of the noble Alamo, fucks him, and then slices his neck with love and outright mercy as the door bursts forth and the warm blood pours and the horseflies twitch and the enemy swarms.
All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2013 by its authors.
Robert Travieso grew up in Baltimore and now lives in Brooklyn. He is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Brooklyn College. His stories have been published in Tin House.
Read the interview.
|Issue Sixteen (March 15, 2007): Heaven by the Highwayside by Mike Amato «» There Swells and Jets a Heart by Rusty Barnes «» Miss Hempstead's Brother by Myfanwy Collins «» This Is What You Left Behind by Tod Goldberg «» Ten Very Short Stories by John Leary «» Photographer and Model by Stefani Nellen «» On Mondays, Francesca Takes the Stairs by Cami Park «» Seven in the Morning by Max Ruback «» Baby in a Jar by Tom Saunders «» The Color of Moths by Holly Selph «» The List by Paul Silverman «» Glasgow Lullaby by Rob McClure Smith «» Night Birds by Craig Terlson «» Quake by Beth Thomas «» Deep in the Heart of Texas by Robert Travieso «» Disappearances by Jeff Vande Zande «» This Is Just Another Yarn by Ann Walters «» Travel by Nancy Zafris «» Interviews: Mike Amato «» Rusty Barnes «» Myfanwy Collins «» Alicia Gifford «» Tod Goldberg «» John Leary «» Stefani Nellen «» Cami Park «» Max Ruback «» Tom Saunders «» Holly Selph «» Paul Silverman «» Rob McClure Smith «» Craig Terlson «» Beth Thomas «» Robert Travieso «» Jeff Vande Zande «» Ann Walters «» Nancy Zafris «» Cover Art "A Gathering of Matisse" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor|