The Mockingbird's Ballad (Chapter 6, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 6

"Long" Charlie Maddox was full of himself and that was quite a full package. At just 5' 3" his nickname "Long" was a joke he'd been given when he was 12. Now he weighed at least 200 and had a waddle on his fat neck the size of one of Mama Bear's good sausages. His arms were exceptionally long and hard as hickory wood. His relatively good mood this morning was because the major had assigned him a green hand recruit - a willing and talented "gofer". Charlie was just shy of 50 years old and fond of good sour mash whisky, fast horses, tall skinny women for hire, sugar cured ham and yeast rolls. "Long" Charlie was outwardly gruff, short tempered, and foul mouthed. His near toothless jaw clinched a beat-up cob pipe all his waking hours. Rumors among his skittish headquarters' farrier section was that he had been a popular and successful jockey twenty-five years ago in Richmond and courted a big planter's baby daughter - a sweet strawberry blond. When he got over saturated with rotgut he told the story.

Her daddy hated him, ordered him not to see her and when Maddox ignored his demands, the girl's father had Maddox horse-whipped and thrown unconscious into the hole of a French freight ship out Norfolk. The busted up jockey somehow made it to New Orleans after several years in France. He said he'd showed those fancy French how to ride a winner. He was in New Orleans when the volunteers came through in '46. He joined up and was with Taylor in Texas when he tangled with the Mexicans across the northern Mexico. Charlie had joined up with a Tennessee unit routed through New Orleans. He served with the major, then a corporal in Taylor's infantry throughout the war. Seems he was assigned to a farrier section after the fighting stopped and those two young soldiers a long way from their homes sweated through the idle occupation in northern Mexico. He and Major Stevenson had been friends since the war and they had served off and on at different forts in the old army out west since then.

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