Del Rio Con Amor: Intro. & Index

Del Rio Con AmorThis ain’t just Villa’s revolution anymore and there’s a whole lot of gold about to go disappearing. Viva this!

First, an introduction.

Hidely-ho, reader. I’m the writer best known as David Mark Brown and the infamous RedneckGranola. You may know me from such websites as www.thegreenporch.com or www.onetruepants. But currently you have stumbled upon my greatest achievement.

Reeferpunk is my self-created genre description (a sort of weird-Western, alternate history, 1920′s, humorous adventure thriller thing). Go here for more on that. These short stories take place in the same alternative history as the novels and sometimes involve major and/or minor characters. They are supplementary (but not necessary) to reading the novels and vice versa.

Join the Revolution!

No longer do good stories have to comply to the button-down world of publishing! You won’t find these bad boys behaving themselves under YA Paranormal or Mystery/Thrillers. Reeferpunk stories are written to blast apart retrictive confines of convention while still adhering to the classic elements of story-telling, the tried and true practices that carry us to the edge of of our seats, make us laugh and make us cry. I’m particularly fond of the characters that you will get to know and love over the next decade’s worth* of Reeferpunk.

*The first book will be cataclysmically good. The next three will be somehow even better. I’ll grow fat on my wealth of penny rolls (I like my money in shiny form) leading to a blase fifth book, then rebound for the sixth, seventh and eighth. The ninth will be a terrible attempt to take the characters into space on a diesel-powered locomotive (only read it if intoxicated). And blah, blah, blah.

Reading Del Rio Con Amor

DRCA is a delightful little romp, a classic train heist with a bit of a dieselpunk twist dropped right into the middle of the Mexican Revolution. ¡Viva la Revolución! Along the way you’ll get to sidle up to a couple of the main Reeferpunk characters (I’ll let you guess which ones) that will star in many more works yet to be written. This story is clickety-clacked full of action and suspense from beginning to end, so I hope you don’t get motion sickness.

DRCA is divided into fourteen scenes depicting a single monumental event in the unfolding of the latter years of the Mexican Revolution in an alternate reality not so different from our own. On a deeper level DRCA delves into the darker aspects of the consequences of our actions and whether violence is justified in the end if it leads to a more stable peace. And after all, who doesn’t want a piece of a stable? (er, I mean stable peace. If you’ve ever owned horses, you know what I mean.)

Follow these links for more on ReeferPunk or Fistful of Reeferthe first book in the series. And enjoy the show!

 

Del Rio Con Amor: p.14

The engine waited for its moment without complaint. Having set the wheels in motion the plan now drove itself forward, with or without Chancho’s assent. Momentarily he glazed over with doubt. But the lift’s gears tugged the armored car upward, gradually closing off his only means of exit. In reluctant surrender to the plan of his own initiating, he hoisted himself up to the original level of the tunnel and then jumped to reach the level where the armored car rested.

Dangling from the lift as it rose closer to the roof of the tunnel, Chancho realized he never thought the plan would actually work. He’d seen these last stages of the plan as a vague generality, thus proceeding through the early stages without acknowledging their end.

He swung his leg up and over the edge of the lift, rolling onto the uneven tracks just as they pushed past the roof of the tunnel and settled into place. Ah Puch had been right. Chancho played the revolution like a game, but human lives were at stake, many more than just his own.

He heard the rocket engine chug free of its restraints in the tunnel below. The lights flicked on automatically now that the electrical connection had been completed by the lift itself. No more kerosene lamps, the belly of the whale buzzed with diesel-powered electricity.

Ah Puch reached down to help him up, a grin stretching both corners of his mouth. “You did it. Your crazy plan actually worked.”

Chancho dusted himself off and felt the sudden urge to see the grisly conclusion of what he had set in motion. He needed to see it for it to be real. “Let’s get topside.”

“Good idea. It should be quite a show, and we need to make sure before we celebrate. Who would’ve thought you’d be the pragmatist.” Ah Puch slapped the side of the armored car as they squeezed past it toward the ladder going topside. “Jorge, hit the latch. We’re going up to see the fireworks. Then we’ll come back down to run our fingers through some of that gold.” He slapped Chancho on the shoulder and laughed.

Chancho reached the ladder first and flew up the rungs. In seconds he reached the trapdoor. With the mechanical lock having been thrown from below, he could see faint cracks of light around its edges. Shoving it upward with his shoulder, dirt and sunlight sifted through the opening. He emerged onto the surface in a daze. Shielding the sun he scrambled toward an outcropping of rock and followed the distant track with his eyes until he saw it.

The dull black engine chugged forward at an increasing speed. It even looked like a rocket, its huge cowcatcher making up a third of its length. It was an ingenious design, created to derail and incapacitate an object of much greater mass—to create chaos and distraction.

The others joined him on the rock. Chancho spoke to Ah Puch without shifting his gaze. “We did it, didn’t we? I mean, changed the revolution?” The general’s train came into view around the bend, returning to collect its lost prize. “It was worth it, right?”

Ah Puch knew what his friend was getting at. “Yes. It was worth it. You’ve made Mexico a better place today, my friend. You’ve proven the ideals of the revolution can and will prevail.”

The moment of impact came. The rocket engine slammed underneath the passenger car full of Constitutional soldiers, heaving it upward and derailing it. The rocket continued its forward momentum until it reached the officer’s car, bucking it off the rails as well. But before it could reach the General’s private car it detonated with an ear-clapping concussion. Flame and smoke burst outward before being swallowed by a larger surge of destructive force that tossed fragments of steel and iron arching in every direction.

“Aye yi yi yi yi!” Ah Puch and the others danced about, waiving their sombreros over their heads. Meanwhile, a half-dozen riders, one of them Pancho Villa himself, rode around the backside of the hill with the four victorious revolutionaries’ horses in tow.

END

Del Rio Con Amor: p.13

Through the ringing in Chancho’s ears a four-stroke, diesel engine pulsed to life, followed by a small explosion detonating the deadman. Cringing, he waited less than three seconds for what he knew was coming next. Thankfully the crashing of the armored car into the deadman sounded little worse than overly rambunctious freight cars coupling—no secondary clatter of a car derailed.

He checked his person for major injury. While bleeding in a few places, nothing seemed to be broken. He gave a second thought to the trailing train cars, but figured they would have run him over already had they been coming. Wrapping his bandolier securely around his waist, he hobbled toward the armored car on heelless boots. “Ah Puch? Emilio? Jorge?” He arrived at the landing on the back where Ah Puch was picking himself up.

“I think I should be a better Catholic, after surviving that.”

“I hope that doesn’t mean you’ll be a worse bandit.” Chancho dusted him off.

“By no means. I hear the Church needs a good bandit every now and then.” The two friends allowed themselves a smile before checking on Emilio and Jorge, who were fine despite being buried in lettuce and tomato guts. Finally Ah Puch brought them back to reality. “Chancho, the train will be returning.”

“Right. Everything’s fired up. I’ll start the lift. But after that collision we’ll need to clear the tracks. We can’t leave anything behind, or all of this will be for nothing.”

“No evidence. We’ll take care of that. Just make sure the belly is ready for its meal.” Ah Puch and the others scurried to the front of the car to clean up any debris and ensure the deadman would either retract or detach. Chancho inched along the wall until he found a control box dangling by its electrical wires.

He hit the first button. An orange-yellow light banished the darkness as three fixtures in the ceiling, still swinging from the impact of the armored car, flicked to life. The second button caused the floor of the cave to shift. It dropped a centimeter before cranking upwards at a rate of a centimeter per second.

He stood still, listening to the creaks and groans, thinking it indeed sounded like a behemoth of a whale slowly rising to the surface. The air in the tunnel tasted like the oil soaked dirt crusted on the fenders of the tractor he had maintained at the orphanage, before he’d left. The memory gave him both hope and guilt.

He waited a moment longer until it was safe to lay the control box on the slowly rising floor of the tunnel. He ran along the rail until he reached the end of the lift and jumped down to the original level. Breathing heavy a sudden dread overtook him as he watched the lower level rise to fill the tunnel.

An engine of sorts emerged from its earthly womb. Just born, and yet only moments away from its inevitable end—a harbinger of death being its only purpose in life. Painted dull black, it absorbed the sickly yellow light. Against the starkness of the moment, Chancho realized this contraption of his design was merely a diesel-powered rocket on wheels.

It was gruesome, and he hated that he had built it. But the plan—the life of the plan drove him on. He jumped down to the track that would become the new floor of the tunnel and scooted behind the rocket engine’s controls. Designed for one simple reason, the device took to its role quickly. The motor fired and pulsed up to speed, surrounded by nothing but a jacket of dynamite and iron plating.

Scene Fourteen

Del Rio Con Amor: p.12

Chancho blinked furiously from the combination of bright sun and whipping wind. Ah Puch held him by his bandoliers while the others stood clear of the swinging pipe. “We only get one chance at this.” Ah Puch cautioned.

“Yes, yes. Miss it and the tail-end of the train will be kissing ours goodbye.” Chancho shook tears from his eyes, watching the tunnel entrance rush toward them faster than he liked. “I’m more concerned with the possibility that we may not stop at all.” He cringed. “Or we’ll wish we hadn’t.”

“You mean we’ll be sitting ducks when the rest of the train returns with all of its angry soldiers.”

“If we aren’t crushed by the deadman.” Chancho tried wiping away tears with his shoulder.

“This just keeps getting better.” Ah Puch shifted his grip on Chancho’s bandoliers, but in the process one of them snapped. Chancho dipped forward unevenly, dangling too far over the railing.

“Hold me steady! We’re almost to the switch!” The throw bar, topped with a red octagonal sign, swept into view as the front of the armored car passed it. The whole of the car had already passed the switch itself, but it was the trailing three cars that concerned the revolutionaries at the moment. “I don’t want to throw it with my face!”

“Dammit, your bandolier.” Ah Puch clutched at Chancho’s clothing, scratching for something solid to yank him backwards by.

“Ah Puch!” Chancho attempted to hold the heavy bar in front of his face in the hopes of deflecting the brunt of the collision. At the last second Ah Puch lunged further forward, gripping Chancho under his armpits. Digging his feet against the bottom of the railing he lurched back. With a final bunt-like swing Chancho whacked the flat portion of the throw bar as the two of them tumbled backwards onto the platform.

“Did you get it?”

“I don’t know. I think so. I hit it anyway.”

“We’ll know soon enough.” For a moment they watched the freight car, the flatbed with their horses and the caboose clack along the rails, already several hundred meters behind them. Emilio cleared his throat from the doorway of the armored car.

“The deadman!” Chancho jumped to his feet.

“That’s what we’re about to be.” Emilio shrugged.

Ah Puch continued his pessimism from before. “We’re going too fast to throw the—”

“Give me a boost.” Chancho cut him off.

“What?”

“Quickly. We’re entering the tunnel. I can trigger the mechanism. Just give me a boost, now!” The sky disappeared as the armored car shot into the tunnel, still clipping at over 20 kilometers per hour. Ah Puch obeyed instantly. Taking a wide stance on the metal grate of the landing he laced his fingers together and clasped the back of Chancho’s boot where the missing heel would have been. Chancho rested his other boot on the top of the railing and poised himself for the jump.

“How can you even see it? It’s too dark.”

“I know where I put it! Get ready! Three, two, now!”

Ah Puch launched Chancho forward into the oily darkness of the tunnel, confident he’d just thrust his friend face-first into solid rock. Chancho shot forward, searching the glimmering darkness for whispers of light reflecting off the metal lever he had placed in the wall.

Catching a glint no more than a meter from his face, he flung his defective bandolier at it like a lasso as he rushed by. With a jerk and pulse of lightning in his shoulder sockets the bandolier caught. Flipping the lever into its recessed position, he ripped free and smashed hard into the wall of the tunnel before crumpling to the ground.

Scene Thirteen

Del Rio Con Amor: p.11

Plunging downward Chancho latched the magnetic-heel explosive to the coupling as gunfire echoed in the confined space between the two cars. The near miss ricocheted off the passenger car laden with Constitutional conscripts. Off balance and flailing for some part of the train that would keep him from being shot, Chancho grabbed the bottom of the passenger car platform.

A second bullet missed just right of his handhold as his boots bounced off the ties rushing past. Chancho glanced over his shoulder at the burning fuse. He would catch a bullet before it went off, but even if he didn’t, he was too close for comfort. “My friend! Let’s not be—” but before he could finish his sentence he heard two bodies colliding, followed by a grunt. Pulling himself up, he turned to see Ah Puch heaving the much larger Guzman off the landing.

“Do hurry.” Chancho leapt across the gap back onto the armored car just as the door to the passenger car slid open. “I’m afraid he had a short fuse.”

Ah Puch’s eyes flashed as he took in both the imminent explosion and the rifles leveled from the back door of the passenger car.

Hooking his friend around the waist as he rushed past, Chancho slung Ah Puch before diving head first through the opened door of the armored car. Simultaneously his heel charge and the powder of multiple rifles flared behind them.

The two friends smashed into a pile of crates as the armored car lurched free from the rest of the train. Seconds later bullets commenced bouncing about the cramped quarters until Chancho shoved the door closed with his foot. Swallowed once again by darkness, both men remembered the belly of the whale lurking several hundred meters down track. Chancho rose to his knees, suddenly aware of a miscalculation in his plans. “How much do you think those geological survey boxes could weigh?”

“What? Who cares? And how should I know. We don’t have time to—”

“The weight! It matters. Momentum equals mass times velocity. I estimated close enough on the speed of the train, but the car could be considerably heavier than I anticipated!”

“Meaning—”

“We won’t stop in time!” Bullets continued to bounce off the front of the armored car, but from a greater distance as the gap between them and the rest of the train expanded.

Ah Puch stood and helped Chancho to his feet. “One thing at a time. First we have to hit the switch.”

With impeccable timing, Emilio’s voice called from the blackness. “We’re getting close. Jorge! Give us some light.” The back door to the armored car slid open and Emilio found Ah Puch and Chancho tangled in some webbing. “We need to get to the front of the car and hit the switch.” He revealed a heavy metal pipe taken from the livestock car.

“Good man.” Chancho reached for the pipe.

“No.” Ah Puch stopped him. “We’re still in range of their fire. We’ll have to hit it from the back.”

“Okay. But it’ll be harder.” Emilio shrugged.

“Not much.” Chancho untangled himself and flicked his spurs back into their resting position. “I don’t know, my friend. I think we’ve still got work to do on these magnet spurs.”

“Fine, fine. You can replace them with jet packs. Just get moving.”

“Really? That would be great!”

“Chancho!”

“Okay, Okay, my friend. Keep your magnet boots on.”

Scene Twelve

Del Rio Con Amor: p.10

Wind tugging his sombrero, Chancho cracked the heel of his boot hard on the coupling. The deteriorating railroad ties of the alternate track blurred beneath his feet. Ah Puch steadied him as he twisted the heel around 90 degrees.

With a quick yank Chancho ripped it from the rest of the boot. A phosphorus- and potassium-covered fuse trailed from the detached heel, the friction of the tug sparking it to life. After Chancho slapped the magnetized metal of the heel down on the coupling, Ah Puch pulled him onto the platform of the armored freight car.

On cue Emilio and Jorge leapt from the top of the feed and grain car to the top of the armored car. The magnets in their boots clanked onto the metal roof loudly. With one last glance back at the burning fuse Chancho flicked his spurs from their usual resting place until they were underneath the soles of his boots—the sharp tips protruding out the front.

Quickly Emilio and Jorge laid down on the roof, dangling their arms over the edge. Clasping at the wrists, they heaved Ah Puch and Chancho up to join them, just in the nick of time.

The metal door at the rear of the armored car slid open, tentatively at first, before eventually opening wide. “They’re on the roof!” a voice barked. Without warning the heel charge detonated. Blasting apart the coupling, the explosion buffeted the train cars with a deafening roar.

On the roof Chancho struggled to gain his balance. Perched with the half-moon shape of his magnetic spurs under the balls of his feet, he locked their harness firmly into place. Clanking loudly, magnet on metal, he darted for the front of the car.

 

Still at the back of the armored car, Jorge, Emilio and Ah Puch stood in a triangle. With Ah Puch facing toward the front of the train, Jorge and Emilio latched onto his arms from behind. “Launch me, boys.”

As one they moved to the back edge of the roof while Ah Puch, the smallest of the four, flipped his legs up and over his head. Swinging him full-circle, Emilio and Jorge fell to their knees and then flat on their stomachs. With their heads and arms dangling over the edge, they sent Ah Puch careening through the opened doorway below, feet first.

With his momentum carrying him into a second backflip, Ah Puch’s left boot struck flesh as his right rotated underneath him more quickly. He caught himself hands-first before finally gathering his knees underneath him and crashing awkwardly into a stack of vegetable crates. From beside came muffled swearing. Behind he heard Jorge and Emilio’s magnetic boots drop onto the landing.

 

From the top of the train Chancho could see the tunnel approaching fast in the distance. Timing was critical. Running as best he could on the balls of his feet, the wind and rocking motion tried to tug him off the side. Finally he reached the front of the car.

Sliding feet-first, he grabbed the lip as he went over the edge and swung down onto the landing. The sudden proximity of the closed door leading to the armored car, as well as the door across the way leading to over a hundred more Constitutional soldiers, sparked an even greater urgency in him.

Gripping his remaining heel he twisted it 90 degrees and tugged it from the sole of his boot, flicking its chemical-laden fuse to life in the process. As steadily as his nerves allowed he stepped down onto the coupling to place the charge. But before he could reach the joint the metal door behind him slid violently open.

Scene Eleven 

Del Rio Con Amor: p. 9

Ah Puch settled onto his stool and adjusted the knob on the kerosene lantern for more light. The rising hiss bounced off the nearness of the rock floor and ceiling, creating the sensation of having been swallowed by a living stone monster.

He plucked an awl from his lips. Gripping it with his nippers, he worked it lightning fast along the seam running up the side of the boot. He stopped to check the placement of the magnetized plate sown into the back of the heel for the fourth time. Reaching inside the boot, he straightened the ripcord for the chili bomb and continued stitching the seam. “By tomorrow you will own the best pair of boots in the world.”

Chancho looked up from his work on a massive wall of gears, grease streaking his face and hands. “Better even than your own?”

“Mine were the prototype. I have made improvements since.”

“Incredible. I will keep them for life.” Chancho adjusted the positioning of a long, metal camshaft with a wrench until the teeth lined up with an even larger gear.

“Damn right. And if your life is any less than fifty years I’m taking ‘em back.”

“I’ll do my best, friend.” He put the wrench down before pounding the shaft further into the heart of the sprawling wall of machinery with a wooden mallet.

“Don’t worry. I’ve put too much work into these boots to let you die now.” Ah Puch snickered at his own joke.

“There!” Chancho tossed the mallet into the corner. He snapped a leather belt with his fingers to test its tautness. “If this machine doesn’t chew me to death when we start it, I’ll consider it a success.”

Ah Puch put down his work to take in the entirety of the contraption. Chancho stood on a metal grate over forty-feet long and ten-feet wide with steel beams connecting it to the roof of the cave every four feet. Where Chancho had been working, a series of gears, pulleys and belts covered the entire far side of the cave, dipping below the grate and out of view. “And this thing will lift a train?”

“Well, not the whole train,” he grinned. “But enough of it.”

“This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Says the man holding gadget boots in his hands.”

“Sure, they have a few special additions, but they are just a pair of boots. This…” Ah Puch indicated the entirety of the room they were in. “This. None of this was even here two months ago.” His voice echoed off the chiseled rock walls. The light from the kerosene lamp fell short of the distant corners of the cave.

“I’ll be happy when we don’t have to work in the belly of the whale any more.”

“The whale?” Ah Puch returned to his stitching.

“Oh yes. I forget you are a very bad Catholic.”

“I’m not a bad Catholic. I’m a good bandit. Although many of the Catholics I’ve known have been both.”

“It’s too bad.” Chancho unscrewed a cap from a large tank half-buried in the wall and sniffed its contents. “You should meet the sisters someday. They would set you straight.” He hefted a fuel can from the floor, directing its funnel into the tank.

“Oh I’m sure they would. But for now I’ve got no problem with being crooked.” He stopped his work to take a swig from a clear glass bottle. “So explain to me again how all my digging in this whale belly is going to win the revolution.”

Scene Ten