Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Load, Overload, Unload

As the sun edged below the horizon, mounted on his Appaloosa, Rowdy squinted as Spotted Ash trotted past the crooked and weather-beaten sign. Camouflaged among the trees it had a name on it; Whispering Flats, wonder why they named it that?

He tugged on the reins and his steed slowed to a walk through the trees.

Rowdy took off his misshapen felt hat and shook off the dust. The only lights in Whispering Flats came from a building at the end of the street that had horses in front.

Bet that’s the light I’m looking for. His boot nudged his horse and they headed that direction.
On the way, above one dark building, he saw a sign that said Hotel. Bet the owner’s where I’m going.
He passed a supply store, barber shop, telegraph office, livery stable, a church, and what looked like a school. He saw other dark buildings with no signs. Maybe they’re people’s houses? If so, they sure roll up this burg early.

As they neared their destination, he nudged his horse with his knee. Like a homing pigeon, Spotted Ash found an open spot at the hitching rail. Rowdy dismounted and patted Spotted Ash on the neck. “If I’m not back in an hour come in and get me. Ok?”

As if to say ya, I’ve heard that before, his horse neighed and shook his mane. Rowdy laughed and walked inside.

At the bar he ordered a beer and joined the group watching a poker game. Even with an open seat at the table he resisted the urge. If I’m still in town maybe I’ll come back tomorrow night. He nudged the person next to him. “Need a place for me and my horse. Livery stable and hotel owners in here?”

“Ya, they’re one in the same. He pointed to a man at the end of the bar.”

Rowdy walked up to the person. “Say, need a place for me and my mount. Can you help me out?”
“You bet. Need more than one night or are you just passing through?”

“Just passing through.” He gulped his beer and followed the man outside. “I’ll grab my horse and catch up with you.”

In less than an hour, replete with fresh oats, Spotted Ash rested in her clean and dry stall in the livery stable. While in the hotel across the street, Rowdy lay on clean sheets and chewed hardtack. He’d eat better tomorrow; tonight, sleep outpointed nutrition.

Rowdy closed his eyes and the familiar haunting whisper began. I’ve told you that you can’t get away. Rowdy grabbed the extra pillow on the bed and covered his face. The undertone started again. You took my life. Now I’m buried in your consciousness.  You’ll never find peace.

Rowdy’s shoulders heaved. When are you going to leave me alone? It was a fair fight. I told you not to draw; I didn’t want to kill you, but you drew anyway; I had no choice. The jury found me innocent.

The rustle repeated. You’ll never find peace.

The next morning Rowdy climbed out of bed and looked in the mirror above the dresser. His bloodshot eyes said more than he cared to hear.

At breakfast he stared at the eggs, pancakes, hash browns, and coffee. He pushed them away, threw more than enough money on the table and walked out of the restaurant. 

Not steady, almost like a drunk, he walked across the street to the livery stable. He saddled Spotted Ash. He’d paid for the night in advance so he rode out of town the opposite direction he rode in. Immediately, the forest encompassed them and the whisper again cavorted in Rowdy’s head. Hahahaha, you’ll never have peace.

He slapped his Appaloosa’s flank and he broke into a trot. The horses mane, and his hat flopped in the breeze. You can’t outrun me. Hahahaha..

Rowdy saw a trail that veered into the woods; he yanked Spotted Ash’s reins and the two of them disappeared into the trees. Soon, he spotted a clearing and he slowed his mount down. When they reached the area he tugged the reins, His horse stopped and he dismounted. 

He walked around the parcel and pulled his gun out of its holster. Yes, yes, pull the trigger. It’s the only way to peace. Rowdy pulled back the hammer.

If someone pulls the trigger in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, did anything happen?   

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