Good Luck Arizona Man

Sunday 22 February 2009

This was one of my favourite books in those long gone days, and it was a pleasure to read it aloud to Bo in recent weeks. The Puffin paperback gives no details on the author, Rex Benedict, and I can’t find anything online except the titles of a few other books also written in the 1970s.

The story concerns a fair-haired boy, Arizona Slim, raised by Apaches who goes looking for lost Apache gold, and for the secrets of his own origins, in the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas. The tale is vividly told, and whether much of it is accurate fact or more the imaginings of the writer, either way it’s impressively done.

The secrets to good luck and happiness, according to Arizona Slim, include never using your real name, changing it regularly, and allowing no thing to exist in your mind which you don’t want to exist, replacing it with something you prefer. Being able to cover your tracks, make your heart stop beating, and learning to breathe through your eyes are all helpful skills as well.
So now I rode into the night, free again and unburdened with White Eye complications. I now knew one more secret about myself and I was afraid to think too much about it. Instead, in pure Apache fashion, I put William Brodie away and became again the Good Luck Man, Arizona Boy, Arizona Slim, or whatever I wanted to call myself - tall for my age, wise for my years, and once again Apache-happy with my life.

I had my horse and I had the stars. I had lost my trackers long ago. Now I could head for those ghostly mountains - the Guadalupes - and find Old Wickiup’s gold.

Everything was beautiful.

Later that same night when Moon Dance and I had made camp along the first slopes of the Guadalupes, I felt that everything was perfect, which to an Apache means that everything is normal. About halfway through the night, while I was pickin’ out the stars in the Mexican sky and thinkin’ how truly fine in life it is to be a good-luck man and untormented by all the foolish things what un-good-luck men look for and die for and never find, I heard the distant trample of horses goin’ fast.
. . .