Written by: Tom Sullivan
It wasn’t the noise that gave them away. It was the moonlight. The Tequilero looked up at the stars – the clouds had moved away far quicker than they had come – and knew that his time was almost up. He smiled. Of all nights.
Armonia was well trained. She stood next to him, still as a scarecrow. No swish of a tail, or clatter of hooves on wet limestone. The bottles that hung across her back had been carefully wrapped, and packed in twine bags. It wasn’t the noise that gave them away.
The Ranger who had spotted them had shouted something – and then vanished into the night like a shadow. The Tequilero knew he would be back shortly, with five more in tow. It was pointless to hide. The Rangers knew The Valley nearly as well as he did. Besides, he couldn’t leave Armonia. The only thing to do was wait. And have a drink.
On his side of the river, this night was known as La Dia de los Muertos. An appropriate night to die, he thought. He carefully pulled a bottle from one of the twine bags, and raised it to the dead. He would be joining them shortly. He let the tequila pass over his tongue for the last time, as if it were the first time.
The Rangers shot Armonia first. When they turned their rifles on The Tequilero, he looked to the stars. The ones that had given him away. The ones that were calling him home. On that sacred night, he made a final request.
“You may drag my body into town, and string me up on high.
You may leave me here on the river bank, to catch the vulture’s eye.
But leave this bottle in my hand, I’d like to take it with me.
For God, they say, is an Irishman, and I’m not a fan of whiskey.”
The Rangers didn’t listen.
The body was still warm when they pried the bottle from his hand. They passed it around, from one man to the next. It tasted of heaven... And it was the last drink the men would ever enjoy.
For on that bottle, there had been placed a terrible curse. The Rangers tried every tavern, and knelt to sip from the purest springs. But from that night on, the only thing they could ever taste…
was the blood of the Tequilero.