BILLY OLD, ARIZONA RANGER
A Historical Novel Based on a True Story
Billy Old, Arizona Ranger
Based on the novel by Geff Moyer
Copyright 2016 Geff Moyer
Contact: James Clois Smith Jr., Sunstone Press / (505) 988-4418
LOGLINE: In the early 1900s, Arizona Ranger Billy Old's best friend and fellow Ranger is murdered by five crooked Mexican Police, so he sets out on a hazardous and deadly two year search across Sonora to bring all five to justice—his justice.
Taos, New Mexico, October, 1934
A woman in her forties is struggling to keep her small art gallery alive during the Great Depression. As she dusts and adjusts the many painting of horses an old Ford pulls up in front of her gallery and a man in a mail order Sears Roebuck’s suit climbs out carrying a small package. Thinking he’s just another traveling Bible salesman she retreats to the back workshop to allow him time to view her artwork. Soon she returns and confronts the assumed salesman in a courteous yet impatient manner. The man removes the wrappings from the small package and presents her with a painting. He asks if she painted it. She is stunned, shaken, pleased, and pained all at the same time.
ACT II, Scene 1
Sonora, Mexico, 1910
Billy Old climbs off his horse Orion in front of a sleazy cantina in the small Sonora town of La Bandera. The heat is stifling yet he wears a sombrero and serape. His clothing is dirty and he sports long matted hair and a full beard. His appearance is more that of a vaquero than a former Arizona Ranger. He looks up and down the dusty, empty street then adjusts his pistol and holster and enters the dark cantina. Standing at the bar downing the worm from his mescal bottle is a Mexican policeman. His uniform is filthy and he is unshaven. When Billy calls out the policeman’s name the man turns, drawing and firing his pistol. Billy draws and kills the policeman. The third of the five Mexican policemen who murdered his best friend and fellow Ranger Jeff Kidder is now dead.
April 3rd, 1908
Jeff Kidder enters Lucheia’s cantina in the border town of Naco,Arizona, in search of two wanted Mexican policemen who doubled as rustlers and gunrunners. He is ambushed by five policemen and mortally wounded. Before he dies he gives Billy Old the names “Amador, Quías, Alvarez, Pasco, Victoriano…Amador…” Billy knows all the faces except Victoriano. A few days later the five killers are whisked off to unknown Sonora towns.
Jeff Kidder arrives at the newly formed Ranger headquarters in Nogales, Arizona, where he enlists as a Ranger. Kidder was college-educated, but a lover of Dime Novels and a quick draw artist with a hot temperament. On his first assignment with Billy, William “Sparky” Sparks, J.J. Brookings, and Alex MacDougal, the Rangers are viciously shot up by bandits and Yaquis. Jeff tells Billy the story of his famous uncle and the “Kidder Massacre.” Eventually the two become very close friends.
The government of the Territory of Arizona disbanded the Arizona Rangers. This gives Billy the chance to pursue Kidder’s murderers, plus his wife has left him and taken their two sons. A whore reveals the location of one of the five murderers: the border town of Los Pozos, Sonora.
For the first time just Billy and Jeff are teamed up alone to escort a murderer and rapist from a holding facility from Flagstaff to Yuma prison. Their conversations give insight to each man’s background. Jeff learns of Billy’s embarrassment over having only a fifth grade education, his home town, and his stint in the Rough Riders. Billy is surprised and fascinated by the new Ranger’s general knowledge, but also learns that Kidder has a dislike for Indians of any kind.
Billy arrives in Los Pozos and is forced into dispatching the first of Jeff’s killers, but he has no idea where to go next. A bad tooth begins to “act up” and will torment him for the entire trek. He curses his ignorance for not being more prepared.
Billy and Jeff are inside the Nogales town hall to provide protection for the men who had come down from the Territorial seat to discuss the issue of Arizona becoming a state. Billy doesn’t understand what the men are talking about. He addresses himself as stupid.
Billy decides that he will head for San Moises, south of Los Pozos. He can resupply and decide where to go next. On the way there he finds eleven dead Apaches, five men, three women, and three children. All had been scalped.
Billy, Jeff, and two other Rangers (Sparky and Freddie), were on the trail of rustlers when they discover the torched ruins of a farm house, along with the bodies of two children and a woman, all viciously scalped. The taking of the scalps was too messy for an Indian. The four follow a lone set of tracks, believing they were made by the husband/father of the scalped family. Soon they come upon three Apache children, also viciously scalped. They arrive at a Jicarilla camp and are greeted by eight warriors, but they did not do the scalping. Sparky explains a scalp is still worth five dollars below the border, no matter what color.
Billy gathers supplies in San Moises and on the dusty table of a cantina traces out a map, a plan, that will take him to various towns across Sonora and give him the chance to resupply as he searches for the other killers. He decides that the murderers may have been stationed in towns in Yaqui country, where trouble never ceases. As he is leaving the next morning, four riders enter town. Hanging from their saddles are pigging strings full of scalps. After the four men enter the saloon Billy grabs the pigging strings from their saddles and sets the booty on fire. Then he makes tracks for the first town on his dusty map, hoping his plan will work.
Billy, Jeff, Freddie, and Sparky are outside the ghost town of Trigger Point, Arizona, which consists of only three still standing buildings. Feather Yank, Captain Wheeler’s Pima scout, had informed the Captain of a gang of rustlers that were using the town as a hideout to alter the brands on stolen beef. The problem was the Pima had no idea how many men were in the gang, so neither did the Rangers. So Jeff forms a plan: they will set fire to the two end buildings and drive the rustlers from the center one into the street. The plan is disastrous, resulting in the deaths of two children and a woman.
Billy passes several towns on the way to Quitovac, which rests on the edge of a deadly desert that he must cross to reach the Yaqui towns where he hopes his prey has been sent. During his stay in Quitovac he purchases a mule named Captain that becomes a major character along with Orion, his horse. During the thirteen day crossing of the desert the trio encounters coyotes, tarantulas, strange giant lizard bones, and the legendary “Red Ghost.” They finally make it to the Rio Yaqui, the river along which most of the Yaqui settlements are located. After a brief three day rest at the river they head northwest. He repeats the names “Amador, Quías, Alvarez, Pasco, Victoriano…Amador…” to all he encounters. No one knows them, no one is talking.
They encounter an old dying Hopi Indian named Three Man who claims he dreamed of Billy’s coming and that he expects Billy to cover him with stones when he dies; While sleeping in the saddle Orion stumbles into a rattlesnake orgy and Billy is thrown into the middle of it, only to be saved by the mule; Dancing Devils – towers of whirling dust - almost blind his animals; He finds a dead Apache squaw with an infant’s leg protruding from her womb.
A nine year old Billy is awakened in the middle of the night to help his father deliver a breeching calf. It is a traumatic and messy experience.
Billy enters a cantina and finds one of his past Ranger friends in a state of drunken degradation, but sadly has to leave him. Old has lost track of the date, is losing weight, developing saddle sores; his clothing is in tatters. His toothache comes and goes like an adulterous wife. His water supply is gone and his urine is turning greenish-yellow. The animals are stumbling and confused. He questions his sanity. He stumbles into a starving Yaqui village and makes a great sacrifice to save its people. Soon he enters the border town of El Papalote. There he is greeted by nativity scenes and festivities. It is Christmas Eve. He has been on the trail for almost a year and only man dead: Tomas Amador.
He stays a month in El Papalote to regain strength. Here he outfits himself as a Mexican – sombrero, serape, new Levis, chaps, etc., to blend in with his surroundings. He meets an old Yaqui Indian with one hand named Tanok who tells him of a policeman named Quias in the town of Pedro Conde. He was the policeman who took his hand. It is the first lead he’s had since the whore told him about Los Pozos. He gives the old Indian a five dollar gold piece and the next day sets out for Pedro Conde. Camping out on the trail without a fire because he worries that border bandits might spot them, he gets into an argument with his horse over which one of them the bandits would eat first – Orion or him.
Freddie Rankin and another Ranger are captured by cannibal Indians, a tribe possibly from east Texas, who cut out the heart of one of the Rangers and eat it. The other Ranger is left with a warning and released in a state of delirium and is now missing. Billy, Sparky, and Jeff are sent to find the missing Ranger.
Billy arrives in Pedro Conde, Sonora. He spots Quias entering the local whorehouse and decides to wait until he exits drunk and spent of energy. While relaxing against a tree by the corral the stench of the horses and cattle drift up his nose.
Nogales, April, 1907
Trapped in the Ranger barracks, waiting out a thunderstorm, Jeff and Billy contemplate starting a ranch someday, which leads to them questioning their current lifestyle and why they are doing it.
In a deadly encounter with Quias, Billy manages to capture the policeman with the help of a young whore.
Arizona, April, 1904
After a fruitless chase of rustlers Billy and Jeff are in a small town where they ask the bartender for the location of the whorehouse. When they get there they discover it is an Indian-run whorehouse and four Apache braves come at them with knives in hand. A young Indian whore hustles the Rangers out the door before they get sliced to pieces.
Billy convinces Quias to talk and learns the whereabouts of Moise Alvarez. Before Quias can divulge the location of the mysterious Victoriano he is accidently dispatched in a rather crude manner.
ACT III, Scene 1
Naco, Arizona 1910
After disposing of Moises Alvarez in La Bandera, Billy learns that his next target has returned to Naco, Arizona, a border town. One night on the trail he is confronted by seven Yaqui warriors armed with Winchesters. One Indian steps out of the darkness carrying a freshly plucked quail. When he hands the bird to Billy, the Ranger sees the Yaqui’s missing left hand and realizes it is Tanok. The Indian thanks him for killing Quias, the policeman who took his hand.
In Naco Billy finds his old friend John Foster, a former Ranger, is the Deputy Marshal. Foster had to leave the Rangers because the constant traveling angered a bullet wound in his hip. He has become a “stay put lawman.” Billy recounts the way his Captain would team up certain Rangers and the time he paired Jeff up with Feather Yank.
Nogales, January, 1908
Jeff still blames Feather Yank for not providing enough information about the rustlers in the ghost town where his plan resulted in the deaths of a woman, infant, and young boy. Captain Wheeler has teamed them up, much to the chagrin of Billy and Sparky, to follow some Mexican police with stolen rifles to Tucson to discover the buyer. Jeff has never been partnered with an Indian, which doesn’t sit well with him. What begins as a tense and confrontational trip ends up being somewhat comical and gives Jeff a new outlook on some Indians.
Billy finds the next man he is seeking - Diaz Pasco – is residing in one of John’s jail cells serving a ninety day sentence. John offers Billy a job as deputy, which he quickly accepts – not only because it will keep him near his prey (Pasco), but because he has felt unbalanced by not wearing the badge of a lawman. It is here that he finally gets his tooth pulled by a real dentist and discovers the wonders of ether. Since old Fort Naco is torn down he is forced to stay at the boarding house. Compared to rickety and leaky Ranger barracks, the boarding house is heaven.
Billy and Jeff are on the roof of the Nogales barracks repairing shingles, expecting a thunderstorm which never comes. That night Sparky and Billy stay at the barracks while Jeff and Freddie go into town. Freddie is killed by a sniper who uses a Sharps rifle. It is soon discovered that there is a bounty on Jeff’s head, courtesy of the Mexican police. Jeff becomes very aloof, not wanting to endanger any of his friends. Billy tries to convince him to partner up, but Jeff won’t do it. The next time Billy sees him is when he is dying in that rotten Mexican jail.
Billy discovers that Jeff’s favorite whore Abbie Crutchfield has moved from Nogales to Naco. They strike up their old friendship and he tells her the whole story of his travels. On the wall of her tiny, depressing room with thin walls he sees a small painting she made of her horse Lavender. They do not have sex; both felt Jeff would be watching. Billy discovers the current whereabouts of Sparky and the fact that Pasco carries a Sharps. Now he knows the man was also involved in the murder of Freddie.
Nogales, January, 1908
After bribing him with a week’s supply of pipe tobacco, Freddie convinces Billy to come with him to talk to his daughter’s fifth grade class up in Bisbee. Fearful he will appear ignorant Billy is reluctant but agrees. Once there he thoroughly enjoys himself with the children. This would be the last time Freddie’s daughter would she her father alive.
Billy convinces Abbie to help him with his plan to nab Pasco when he is released from jail and convince the murderer to disclose the whereabouts of the mysterious Victoriano. She agrees but is concerned why he is putting himself through so much hell. She asks him if it’s for pleasure. Later that night as he lie in his bed Abbie’s word “pleasure” keeps bouncing round his head. He questions his motives.
Nogales, August, 1907
Billy, Jeff, and Freddie are sent to Sasabe, Arizona to trap the Dave Shepherd gang, notorious murderers and rapists. They have learned Shepherd and his men and had raped and killed an eleven-year-old girl. Freddie is concerned because his daughter is only one year younger than that and the same could happen to her. When the Rangers confront the gang, Freddie makes certain it never will, and gets much pleasure from it.
Billy purchases a special rifle and scope for future use on Pasco. He discovers an abandoned shack outside of town where he practices with the rifle and digs a hole five feet deep, all part of his plan to “plant Pasco.” He has a deadly confrontation with the scalp hunters whose booty he burned a year ago. He meets a traveling salesman hawking special pills to prevent people from being poisoned by the gases in the tail of Haley’s Comet. He discovers some of the strange and whimsical encounters a “stay put” lawman faces in his town, unlike a Ranger who would have to be on the trail for many days tracking his prey. He tries to run from his first encounter with a flushing toilet, only to fall and crack his skull on the sink. We also discover some things about his distant past, his time in Cuba, how he became a Peace Officer, the deaths of his mother and father, and how he eventually ended up with the Rangers. We hear rumblings of the Mexican Revolution and upcoming World War One.
Naco, July 9, 1910
Pasco is released. With Abbie’s help Billy gets the killer in a deep sleep with the ether. He places him in the hole he has dug and buries him up to his neck. He learns that the mysterious Victoriano is none other than Victoriano Amador, Mexican side Chief of Police. He thought Jeff had been repeating the name “Amador.” Billy did not know the man’s first name was Victoriano. A violent sandstorm interrupts Billy’s plan and he has to hightail it, leaving the screaming Pasco to the storm.
He is awakened the next morning by John Foster who has a note reading: “The whore for Pasco. Lucheias.” Now Billy has to cross that bridge into Mexico to save a friend. Four Mexican policemen, drunk from tequila, drag a battered Abbie from the cantina and ask were Pasco is. A gunfight occurs and Billy is victorious with the unlawful and surprising help of John Foster. He checks Abbie. She’s still breathing, but beaten and cut badly. She has lost an ear. Foster says Victoriano has headed south. Billy dreads going back down into Sonora after him. A few days later a wooden box wrapped in rabbit skins mysteriously shows up on Foster’s desk. He and Billy open it to find the head of Victoriano Amador with a note stuck to it with a stick through its eyeball. The note reads: “Even, Tanok.”
Abbie survives and eventually leaves town, but leaves Billy with a gift – a painting of Orion. Billy informs his former Captain that the men who killed Jeff are dead. Billy decides to go visit his old friend Sparky but cannot recall what town in which he is preaching the gospel. He curses his ignorance.
Epilogue, Taos, New Mexico, 1934
The man entering the art gallery is one of Billy’s sons. He never knew his father because his folks had divorced when he was just two years old. He informs Abbie that his father was shot and killed in 1914 by his second wife. He and Abbie spend the night together. She tells him of his father. The next morning he insists on leaving her twenty dollars. Now she can pay some bills