Tom nodded slightly, and the sheriff left him, walking quickly in the direction of the gunfire.
“Don’t mind me, Sheriff,” Tom said under his breath. “I just got to take care of a little business. Real quiet like.” He stood in the dark of the wood walkway and stared across the street into a black alley. A few minutes later, he saw movement there, and heard a low whistle.
Tom strode across the dirt street toward the alley, which was next to the Presidio bank. He turned his back to the alley and leaned against the bank, looking out over the street. With the gathering darkness, the town had become more active. Lights came on down the street, and the gunfire continued at the edge of town. Tom was thankful that Sheriff Wicker would have his hands full with them, leaving Tom and his boys available for their own project.
“Everyone ready?” Tom muttered under his breath.
“Si, Senor Horn,” came a man’s voice with a heavy accent. “We be ready when you are.”
“OK, Pablo, you and Lupe go join the rest of those Mexes headed back to the base. Kid and I will tag along, back about a quarter mile or so. You know the signal. We’ll be ready when you give it. Andele, muchachos.”
He felt rather than heard the two men in sombreros slink off into the darkness, ready to join those who were returning across the border to the barracks in Ojinaga, Mexico. Tensions ran high between ranchers here in the Big Bend area of the Rio Grande Valley and the new escalation of military in Mexico along the border. Tom had no idea what had led the Mexicans to start the military build-up, but the Germans were quick to take advantage of their insecurity, and had turned a small adobe fort into a state-of-the-art Army garrison.
And then there were those big grey things in the sky. Zeppelins, they called them. Tom thought they were the biggest tomfoolery he had ever seen. They were as huge as a mountain, and yet he still had seen no practical use for them. So far all he had seen they were good for was scaring the cattle.