Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

A Bulge over the Belt of Texas

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

A Bulge over the Belt of Texas

Article excerpt

(Zachary Taylor)

Men of action value men of action. Hungry for land, we'd settled into the hot, hot heat of Camargo with whatever bodies could carry the weight of the nation, but now the frontier was blazing. The village ground had softened into a cesspool. Everyone present agreed that dysentery was gross and foamy. We began to lose our minds. Those of us who survived played the dead march so many times that the local birds started to pick up the melody and sing it back to us. Down here in Mexico, animals know that life isn't for everyone.

When I entered Old Rough and Ready's stinking tent, his strong, even teeth were eating a lunch served by the cook's special needs son. Our calico shirts were all identical, our thin faces similarly burned from the sun. Taylor was careful not to spill any of the mustard from the spoiled potatoes onto his scout's map of northern Mexico. If the Natives had taught him anything back in Texas, it was that our integrity must never be stained. "Maybe this regiment should go here," he muttered to himself, mindlessly scratching the back of his grizzled scalp. "This one... over there."

I wasn't naïve and only interrupted with a necessary degree of caution. I coughed and held my stomach with both hands. At least most of my fingers were still intact.

"Water?" he asked me without looking up. "Coffee?" He removed his reading glasses and cocked his head to better hear the insects burrowing into the dirt. He started to wink, but I guess he thought better of it. Soldiers experience the most horrifying grandeur.

I declined the drinks. He had asked for periodical updates on the men, and so I gave it to him good. First I told him that Fenno was trying to construct something like a church group out of our cavalry. In his latest drunken sermon, he said the smoke from the campfire was to be our incense, the knives our stained glass. Such people are too thankful for an audience, and it's obvious (right?) that even if he survives, he'll never find his way into his own home.

And then Cortescue had at long last admitted to killing the innocent, women and children and the like. A veteran of numerous wars, he'd forgotten what our struggle against Santa Anna was even supposed to be about. …

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