I took to writing stories about a little over a year ago for something to do while recovering from a broken foot. I've had about thirty published here and there. They have appeared in Romance Magazine, Heater, The Flash Fiction Press, The Fable Online, Frontier Tales, Clever Magazine, The Zodiac Review, Fear of Monkeys, Abbreviate Journal, and The Texas Writer's Journal Quarterly. (I think that's all of them.)
The Worst of Times
It was the best of times.....ah to be young and in love.
It was the worst of places to be young and in love, inside the besieged Alamo.
Bobby and Trinidad sat hand in hand, side by side, so close that you couldn’t have slid a sheet of paper between them, on the cannon along the wall of the Alamo’s crumbling falling down chapel and looked eastward. Both knew no one was coming but nevertheless they couldn’t help themselves. They numbly stared in the distance hoping a cloud of dust would suddenly appear foretelling them that Fannin or Houston and their army was riding to their relief. Even Colonel Travis held out no hope and yesterday told them so. Told them that they alone stood as the picket guard on the Texas frontier, that no one was coming to their aid.
“Hear that? Fiddle music. The Tennessee boys are getting their fiddles tuned up. Hear ‘em? They’re going to do some fiddling and where there’s fiddling, there’s dancing. Come on Trini let’s go see what’s going on. Take our minds off all this for a little while.
Hand in hand they jumped off the cannon and scurried down the earth mound and out into the open. They skidded to a stop and listened. Santa Ana was continually, day and night, firing artillery rounds into the Alamo. They hardly did any damage and no one as yet had been hit but you still had to be careful. It was just that the loud noise kept you up all night and left your nerves continually on edge.
Nothing. No cannon fire sound. Together they made their mad dash to the barracks where the music was coming from. A crowd was already there anxiously milling about.
Then some toothless whiskered old coot started clapping and pumping his knee up and down and shouted out, “Let’s get this wing ding a-going!”
The fiddlers took their cue and struck up the fiddles playing all the popular negro songs, Old Zip Coon and Jump Jim Crow being the favorites. Soon the floor was packed and Bobby and Trinidad jumped in “cutting the wing” with the rest of them and having the proverbial yee-haw high old time.
There was only a handful of women there at the Alamo and all the women of the Alamo were of Mexican descent except for Mrs. Dickinson. She wasn’t at the dance though. She was off nursing her newborn daughter but all the Mexican ladies were present and accounted for.
All the men of the Alamo were white men except for about a dozen local Mexicans that had cast their lot with the Anglos.
All of the men wanted to dance with Trinidad. She was so beautiful, hazel eyes, wavy flowing long black hair, the figure of a Greek goddess. One of the fellows cut in on Bobby soon after the first dance started and he knew he’d be lucky to get another dance with her that night.
And all the women wanted Bobby for a dance partner. This handsome young man with the bright blue eyes, chiseled features, trim body and thick head of black hair. Why he was Adonis. Even Mrs. Esparza dared dance with him in spite of the scowling looks she got from her husband. And she even let her thirteen year old daughter dance with him. But then Bobby really got lucky. He got to dance with Gertrudis, Jim Bowie’s spinster sister in law, who was as old and ugly as Trinidad was young and beautiful.
And Trinidad danced with them all, the Norteamericanos, the local Mexicans, the men from various places in Europe with their funny accents. She even danced with ten year old Enrique Esparza. She knew the boy had a crush on her as did many of the men there. Everyone got a turn before the music stopped so that the fiddlers and singer could catch their breath. They were out of tunes anyway as they had played Zip Coon and Jim Crow to death as well as all the waltzes and reels of the day.
One of the Mexican men then uncased his guitar and began to play a Mexican dance song. Soon everyone was back on the floor dancing. The do-si-do hoedown morphed into a heel stomping Mexican fandango.
And Trinidad, oh she was something else. She was in her height and glory dancing to her music. All eyes were upon her as her feet stomped the ground, her arms above her head waving in the air with fingers snapping, flipping and raising the hem of her colorful skirt, tossing her head back and forth, her hair bouncing from side to side, the center of attention.
Oh it was a strange and peculiar sight that night. These white men dancing with these brown women to this negro and Mexican music.
But when the fandango was over nothing had changed. Bobby and Trinidad could see it in each others forlorn eyes. Nothing changed and nothing will change. They still were doomed inside these walls.
They dragged themselves back to ‘their room.’ There was a room that was understood by the men to be ‘their room’ when the door was closed. Otherwise it belonged to all as long as the door remained open. Men would even go in there to sleep on the floor but never close the door and never use the bed therein. It was “their bed.” Now they were spent from the dancing and their nerves shot. Sleep, it would be a welcome relief, let them escape for a while anyway.
“Bobby I’m going to speak to Colonel Travis tomorrow about us leaving here.”
“Don’t Trini. I already told you not to.”
“I’m going to. I don’t care what you say.”
They laid down in bed, their backs to each other. Not another word was spoken.
Next day they kept their distance from each other. Toward dusk Trinidad went to make her request of Colonel Travis.
Colonel Travis knew what she wanted, she wanted permission for her and Bobby to leave. He knew what it was to be in love once. He knew what it was to be divorced and to be in love again as he was now. But most of all he knew if he granted them her request, their lives would be spared.
The command over these men, and now women too he realized, had finally worn him down. He knew now that he was the giver of life and death. He knew it the other day when he made his speech and drew the line. The speech to which he and all the others had chosen death, death and honor that is, over life. Now he was being asked to spare the lives of these two. He couldn’t refuse them. Why just this morning hadn’t he saved the life of a young boy of sixteen when he sent him out as a messenger with one final plea for help. He knew no help would come but he knew that the lad was smart enough to get through the Mexican lines and make it. He had saved his life by letting him go. He would do the same again now. These two would make it now under the cover of evening’s darkness. She didn’t even have to make her request. “Vaya con Dios,” he said.
Trinidad’s spirit rejuvenated immediately. She ran to Bobby shouting. “We can go Bobby. We can leave. Colonel Travis said it's alright.”
Bobby stood there, she pulling his arm. “Come on. We can get through. You speak Spanish well enough and can pass for Mexican. Come on. Let’s go.”
“Can’t do it Trini. Can’t leave.”
“What?” she screamed.
“Can’t go. I gave my word. I crossed the line. The men are counting on me to keep my word. I have to stay.”
“Bobby! One man more or less will make no difference here. We can get through, get married, start a family just like we planned.”
“Makes a difference to me Trini.”
The tears now streaked down both their faces.
“Bobby they will kill you, all of you.”
“I can’t stay Bobby. They will kill you but once. Me they will kill a thousand times before they kill me.”
“I know. Leave Trini. You’re a beautiful young woman. You will have no trouble finding a husband. They’ll be waiting in line for you. Go! Get married, have children and grandchildren. Go!”
She stomped her right foot and with clenched fists ran out into the night never looking back. Trinidad made it through the Mexican lines and to a new life. She got married, had children, became matronly as the bloom went off the rose, and had many many grandchildren. She never spoke of Bobby nor of the Alamo again and if someone would ever ask her, “Weren’t you at the Alamo?” she would give them a curt “No!’ in such a manner that the individual would immediately kill the subject. For you see to her, those were the worst of times.