Another Tex-Regional Myth: The Birth of Pecos Bill

Something of an outgrowth of the last post, this venturing more into short-story form, and going backward a bit in our protagonist’s timeline, since I expect there may be more where this came from.

For those few of you who have an interest in anything more than my duking it out with atheists and such, here’s some folkoric fusion.

Once upon a time in the West, there was born a particularly quarrelsome boy to a woman said to’ve been struck by Thunder.  Upon the moment of his birth, he commenced to such a squalling that the clouds themselves drew themselves up as though they was a’feart they was like to get yanked down from the sky into the boy’s lungs, for to be screamed back out and scattered to the winds and never shade the desert floor again.  The boy screamed and hollered so thorough as to drive his mother near mad, and she set him adrift on a the river at the desert’s edge, like the baby Moses.  As tales have a way of growing long, words have a way of getting’ mixed, and as pronunciations as such have a way of gettin’ confused, Moses turned into Pecos, and Pecos was what the river with the screamin’ babe was called thereafter, and Pecos was what the screamin’ babe himself was called, named for the river what was named for him.

Now it came to be that the boy washed up, mud-sodden and blue-skinned as much from the screamin’ as from the drownin’, since his mother was in such a hurry to be rid of him as to forget to even stuff him in a basket ‘fore she set him a-sailin’.  And even blue in the face, he screamed, right hungry that he was from floatin’ in the river for nigh on three full days, and that screamin’ carried through the gullies and the draws and right into Coyote’s den, and it was such a loud ruckus that Coyote was put out of his mind.  In fact, he was put right into two minds, on account of his head rattlin’ harder than a snaketail, an’ the two of him got up and set on to see what all the commotion was about.

When Coyotes came upon the boy, screamin’ as he were, the dark side of the dog said, “Now what in the Nethers is this about,” and the light side cackled half-madly, and said “I reckon that there’s a baby.”

The two sides of Coyote what had been rattled loose in one head turned to arguin’ amongst themselves over what to do with the boy, with Dark Dressed Death sayin’ he’d done drownt and should be carried to the Gate and Scales, and with Sun-Bleached Scout sayin’ that he was clear as crystal still shrieking his livin’ lungs out, an’ obviously not dead.  Since Dark-yote weren’t too keen on keening in his Underworld, he figured they’d at least ought to stop the cryin’, an’ so they picked the boy up in their mouth to carry him on home.

Soon as Pecos was scooped up, o’course, he shut right up.  This came as a surprise to the rattlehead ‘Yote, since he’d been so long in the West he’d right forgot quite how young’n’s worked.  Suddenly made awares of his lack of awaresness, he reckoned it might serve to find someone what knew somethin’ ‘bout motherin’.  Of course, bein’ that the nearest thing to a lovin’ mother type he knew had a habit of battin’ him about the skull with big ol’ Lion paws, he resolved instead to raise the boy up himself for a spell.

Things went fine for a while, with Dead and Scout, who in baby-Pecos-talk soon ‘nuff came to be “Uncu Anpu” and “Wepwawet,” learnin’ the boy how to scuttle around on all fours, which lizards and bugs was best for eatin’, where the sand-birds laid their tasty eggs, and which high ground to find when the rains came.  And in those early days, the rains came often, ‘cause it happened that any time Pecos was to get himself agitated, he’d cry up a right frightful gale, whippin’ an’ rainin’ and all manner of chaotic tomfoolery.  The upside of this was that there was a terrible lot more to eat, what with all that rain comin’ about.  The downside was that with one-two shake-brained Coyotes doin’ the fatherin’ for a toddler, things weren’t done right a touch too often, an’ a lot of cryin’ was goin’ on, and the desert draws were getting’ washed out.  Eventually, someone was liable to take notice.  And eventually, someone did.

It was the third day in the row of windy desert downpours when Lion was sittin’ in her den, soaked through to the bone an’ mad as a cat in a cannery, decidin’ that somethin’ weren’t quite right with all this raucuous rainin’.  She gathered up her copious amounts of resolve an’ set out into the curtains of wet hell, and was along the way when Ibis settled onto her shoulders, wet as could be in his own right, well west of his usual haunts.

“I suppose you’re out to find the source of this relentless rainstorm too, then?” Lion asked the rather undignified, inundated bird upon her back.

“You know me well enough, Dread One, to know that I’ve been keeping close account all along,” Ibis said in his highfalutin manner of speakin’.  “And I know you well enough to know that you suspect Coyote’s at play.  By my calculation, you’re between one half and three halves right.”

Lion grimaced and continued on her course.  After a while, by which point she was practically swimmin’ over the desert floor, she came into the draw where she an’ Coyote tended to have their arguments, an’ she roared loud enough as to convey that she weren’t in no mood for games, so he’d best mosey on out for their palaver.

And mosey they did, since Anpu and Wepwawet had been rattled plum in two by this point, Anpu dark as a desert night, Wepwawet white as the scorching sand.  Lion frowned, since this was near enough to six times as much Coyote as she was in any mood for dealin’ with.

Anpu cleared his throat with a grating chuckle and spoke first, “Well, we’d been wonderin’ if you was gon’ta show up.”

And Wepwawet added, ever bold enough to go just a bit further than was necessarily wise, “He’d reckoned a week ago, but I’d sworn you was too skeert of the water as to crawl outta your hole ‘til your hole’d done filt up with water too.”

Lion, cranky as she was, gave Wepwawet such a slap as to lay him out cold in a puddle—in this case, of his own fashionin’.

Anpu tucked his tail an’ bristled up a bit, to which Lion bristled in turn, an’ her bristlin’ was somewhat more transcendant in navigatin’ the intricacies of the unspoken, such that Anpu decided it were wise to go retrieve Pecos an’ present him to her.  Calmin’ down from his snifflin’ fit, and lookin’ owl-eyed as children often do, Pecos wagged his butt an’ waved at Lion in greetin’.

Now, Lion had a litter or two of her own young’ns in her day, but she still weren’t much for any sort of nonsense, nor was she prone to goin’ all doe-eyed at little snot nosed jackanapes such as this, since her line of business was more on the side of eatin’ those what went doe-eyed at things, so she leaned in real close, an’ she showed off her teeth, an’ she let that boy Pecos get a whiff of all the aeons of death what dwelt in that hot desert wind she exhaled, an’ for the first time, the only time in all his life, Pecos was a’feart.  In a manner of speakin’, that bein’ the literal manner, in this instance, he was scared shitless.

Lion wrinkled her nose.  Pecos laughed an’ tugged at her ear, that fear broken for the moment, an’ she noted real quicklike that he was tuggin’ a whole lot harder than any boy ought to.  An’ so, voicin’ a warnin’ at Anpu, who was backed well enough away, an’ Wepwawet, who was collectin’ himself up off the ground, she collected the boy an’ went on her way.  And Pecos, with all the tears done skeert outta him, never cried again, an’ the desert went dry as dead men’s bones.

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