Well, the kid was right. The food was amazing. I just hoped that I would be able to lay in my bed tonight without my stomach gurgling from all the hot spices in the food. It wasn’t so hot that you couldn’t eat it, in fact, I don’t mind hot food as long as you can taste the food, but now, in the stillness, looking out the window I began to wonder about the jalapenos and the frijoles. Pleasure for a moment, and now reflection. I reckon life is a lot like that.
I enjoyed talking with the kid; I found his name was Elfego. For a youngster, he was very aware of what was happening around him. He hadn’t neglected his education, and was one of the few that put the thinking to use. I told him I wanted to see the marshal in the morning. When I said that his lips pursed in disgust like he might have bitten into a sour jalapeno.
“Marshal Udall is worthless. He allows too much to happen in this town, especially against the Mexican faction,” he informed me. “I don’t want to talk bad, maybe he is a good man, but he is worthless as a marshal.”
We continued eating, then he spoke up again after taking a bite of tortilla filled with peppers and beans. “I see you are wearing a badge,” he paused, wiping his lower lip as some of the sauce came from his mouth. “Are you here to cause us more trouble?”
I liked the kid, he had an awareness about him. “I’m a United States Deputy Marshal, and I hope to stop some trouble,” I said. “I still need to make my presence known to the marshal. Udall is his name?”
“Si, Mort Udall. I don’t know if he is just lazy, or if the job is too big for him,” he stopped to look at me staring for several seconds. “There are people coming in to Socorro bringing trouble. I don’t have any names, but a gang lords over the store owners demanding to be paid.”
We both continued eating, no talk for a while, but then he started again. “They beat the merchants and take what they want. There is no protection. In fact, before this group came we had no need of protection!”
After finishing eating I leaned back in my chair and patted my stomach. “You want a drink? Tequila? Mescal? Or maybe a beer?”
I didn’t know if he was feeling me out or was interested in making me feel at home. “No, don’t touch the stuff. I want to keep a clear mind and a clean, sober heart.”
He stared at me for some time. “Some of that stuff will eat the varnish off the woodwork, what do you think it’ll do to your stomach? No, the good Lord gave us better ways to enjoy a good time, besides drinkin’.”
“I will try to find out a name for you,” he said solemnly.
“Don’t go gettin’ yourself into trouble,” I warned. “And since you brought me to this fine place for dinner, I hope you don’t mind if I pay for yours.”
I left him there and a few minutes later was on my bed, in the hotel room, listening to my stomach gurgle. I wondered if Stinson was behind this group who had come to town. I also thought some of what Elfego said about Marshal Udall. Opening my Bible to do some reading I turned to the Psalms. David and others were always having some kind of problem and my eyes went to Psalm 143, “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” “Lead me,” well Lord I sure need Your guidance, I said in a little prayer.