The Legend of Pecos Pete

As the desert dust blows, and the tumbleweeds amble on, tales may reach your ears, carried in the canyon wind or in the whistle of the Southern Pacific. Tales of Pecos Pete, scion of the Southwest cockfighting circuit.

No one knows exactly where he came from. Some claim he’s descended the fighting birds of the rajahs of India; others, that he’s the spirit of a grand Navajo warrior, or a wild creature come up from the Aztec jungles of old. I’ve heard tell that he was the meanest hatchling among the orneriest clutch of chicks what ever cracked shell, and that by day’s end he’d lain waste to all his brethren.

A magnificent creature was Pecos Pete, bright of plumage, outthrust of chest, and long in wattle, with a comb as deep red as a New Mexico sunrise. From his ankles jutted a pair of spurs the envy of every cowboy, roughneck, and trail rider from San Francisco to San Antonio. A rusty brown, those spurs were, stained with the blood of his conquered foes.

To see him fight was to watch a ballet of fury and feathers. I was there in Creed when he eviscerated the Colorado Ripper; in a mining camp outside Bisbee when he sent El Muerte Blanco to the afterlife; in a railroad town out on the Texas llano, when he turned even the ferocious Leghorn Lucifer of Lubbock into little more than stew meat. Won two hundred dollars and a case of whiskey on that match, I did.

What finally became of Pete, I cannot say. Perhaps no man truly can. Rumors abound that he was sold to a Chinese apothecary, that he was taken from his coop one night by marauding coyotes, that he toured Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and died there. Like the Pony Express and the great bison herds, once the great railroads tethered the country together and Natives were beaten back onto the reservations, Pecos Pete faded from the world, until all that remained was the legend.

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