The Diezmo, Part Two
A Novel in Three Partsby Rick Bass
We fought as if charmed.
The families in the adobe houses fled into the streets, and we used the butts of our rifles to knock out the walls of first one home and then the next. Canales’s men, retreating back into Mier, caught the brunt of the fire from Ampudia’s men, who were stationed in the center of town, and many of them were cut down more quickly by their own than by us.
There were candles and lanterns still burning in the houses we entered, and we could see in the dim light crude Christ-and-crucifix carvings on the walls, tattered Bibles on the mantels, and paintings of Christ, and novenas, everywhere.
Canales’s and Ampudia’s men were trying to follow us into the homes, but they were easy to defend. We had only to station a few men by each door to shoot point-blank each soldier, one by one or two by two, as they attempted to storm those small, low doorways.
Soon the doorways were stacked high with dead Mexican soldiers, and as each one fell his gun was wrested from him and tossed down to those of us who sat or lay beneath windows, where we peered up and fired out at Ampudia’s men, across the street. Occasionally there was a simultaneity between my one shot, among dozens, and the tumbling of a rider. As if his horse, or the rider himself, had suddenly encountered some rope strung chin high through the darkness. We moved from one adobe to the next, snuffing out the candles and lanterns left burning by the occupants who had fled.