The wind is something. it is a thing you live with out here; with all them sand and snow storms I reckon I live out here but good. man can get lost out here right quick without somebody.
get lost real quick with one, too.
Mountains are cold this time of year, and there’s snow on the ground. makes a crunch like you don’t know whether you’re stepping on egg shells or broken glass.
don’t care to find out.
I remember this horse well. Earl always has a way of making you feel at ease, like you meant something to somebody.
always liked Earl.
Down in that darkness I hear something stirring. don’t know why, but even though I know I got my gun, there are plenty of things out in a desert don’t care too much.
reckon they don’t think too much either way about it.
Little ways into that pass he rides up alongside. must be his senior by about twenty years now. I suspect he didn’t ever get the chance to make it where I am. maybe he didn’t expect to, I don’t know. maybe he didn’t think about it too much. want him to say something, to look, but he doesn’t. head down, blanket wrapped around his shoulders.
rides on by, just rides on by.
He gets past me and I see he’s got fire. in a horn like old times. back before cowboys tried to tame the land. reckon we can try all we want. land has a way of taking people back.
land’ll take me one day.
Feel like I don’t have much left. like an empty feeling that mixes with that dark. closer now to death I suppose. don’t think you feel that when it comes all of a sudden. he keeps riding, and the farther he goes, the less I can see that fire.
carrying it on his hip.
I lose sight of that speck in all that dark.
Somehow I know he’s going ahead to make a fire. in that snow and that dark.
i know i’m gonna get there.
he’ll be waiting.
I wake up. The smell of my sweat mingles with the arid air. See that fan above me. I sit up in bed look out the window. Silhouettes of cactus and scrub brush painted against red and purple, dawn on the horizon. I try not to think about too much. Can’t help it really. The nightstand - my knife, my gun. Sheriff’s badge’s seen one too many licks and damn near screams when I put it on anymore. Tarnish from thirty some odd years’d do the same to me.
Hell, guess it has.
My grandfather was a lawman, my father too. Both lived, both died. Some of those old timers didn’t carry a gun. Didn’t need to I guess. Would’ve been a nice place to be. Land didn’t look much different I bet, just sand and a strip of pavement cutting it in two. Dust storms still blowing across occasionally. Sometimes them old timers would go out afternoons hunting there was so little to do.
In the kitchen I wait for six o’clock with coffee and a head full of running. Get to thinking about my father. About the dream. About the evil in the world that comes back at you when you’re already looking damn hard for it. It’s not that I’m afraid of the things I’ve seen, afraid of death. Seen plenty of men die. Hell I’d be the first to admit defeat when it stares me down; doesn’t mean I have to like it. I know things have changed. Guess I have a hard time coming to terms with that. Maybe the world’s caught up; maybe the joke was on us all along. Took ‘til now to find out.
Suppose it doesn’t matter much anymore. Here I am, can’t pick up the badge. Gun won’t stop what’s coming. An old man in a world that turned ugly too fast for him to know. Guess there’s nothing more to understand.
Maybe I’ll go riding today. Shut my eyes. Go back to the dream.
before i woke up.