A large pile of rifles spilled at his feet. Behind and to the right, several boxes originally reading “Vasićka” had been scratched out and relabeled, “granada.” He pulled off one of the lids.
“Bombs.” The box was filled with handheld bombs. He’d heard of these, explosives with a fuse or that detonated on contact. He stepped away slowly. The auto loomed to his left. Beyond that, a stack of machine guns, like the ones the cavalry carried, but newer. German. Overwhelmingly, the crates where imprinted with German. He’d seen enough of the language in the hill country around Austin to recognize it without a doubt.
The pounding on the doors grew louder before coming to a stop. Gunshots splintered the wood. The heavy doors would take a battering, but they wouldn’t last forever. He jumped onto the runner of the truck, a large machine gun mounted to its bed, coils of ammunition ready-fed through the device. He’d never driven an auto or fired a machine gun, but he’d driven a tractor since he was twelve and seen the military work the contraptions several times.
“This is crazy.”
Snatching two granadas, he scurried back to the truck. To his relief it started. He put out the lantern and stood in the driver seat waiting for the doors to give way. Within seconds the beam splintered and fell to the ground. As the two giant doors swung outward the low rumble of the gasoline engine greeted the confused mob.
McCutchen chucked one granada and then the other as hard as he could. Both exploded simultaneously, knocking him back into the driver’s seat and deafening him. He jammed the truck into gear and shoved his foot down on the pedal. Spitting gravel against the back wall of the adobe, he shot out a short distance before slamming on the brakes as soon as he cleared the doors. Groans and swears filled the immediate darkness while shooting and yelling filled the further distances like coyotes calling to each other.
With his good leg he leapt into the back of the truck to wield the machine gun. Here goes. He depressed the trigger slightly. The recoil shook him to the bone. Holding on, he clinched his jaw to keep the teeth from rattling out of his head.
Anything that moved, he lit it up, until finally nothing moved. He released the trigger, giving the gun a chance to cool and taking the opportunity to untangle several more feet of ammunition. From his vantage he saw directly across the fields to the old hacienda.
Foolishly, every lamp in every room had been lit, or perhaps the lights were electric. The Huertistas pulled back and retreated across the field toward the stone walls of the hacienda while the Villistas responded to the machine gun fire, thinking it was intended for them.
A cluster of horses pulled away from the main regiment, riding around the field toward McCutchen’s position. “Come and get me, boys.” As the lead horses got within fifty yards he opened it up. The pealing thunder of the gun erased all sounds of life. His eyes, rattling in their sockets, saw nothing but death.
Then a click and a whirring buzzed around his head as the barrel spun but the ammunition jammed. Amazed it had lasted this long, he jumped down and took one last granada from behind the seat. As several Villistas regrouped and bore down on him with guns blazing, he chucked the bomb into the yawning darkness of the munitions shed and worked his good leg as fast as he could toward the fields.
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