Friday, July 15, 2011


Nothing moved in that eternal silence of the moment. No birds cawed, coyotes didn't cry, the wind had stopped blowing for what seemed longer than possible. The sand was still for the first time in days. The man weighed his options against his opponents, to which he was severely out-gunned. He had two pistols, a Winchester repeater and the old Civil War pistol he'd taken from the Mexican, which was probably no good.
"How many of you are there?" he shouted.
"More'n you," came the guard's voice. "And definitely more guns."
He considered, for a moment, why he was even doing this. Surely, he had been paid, that much was true. Or was to be paid once the job was done, but surely he could return to his employer with news of the American's death, along with the in-actuality dead Mexicans, and he would be paid. His employer would be none the wiser, right? Why should he risk his skin on a man he could pretend was dead and would likely not commit forgery again?
He reached over from his cover and fired once at the compound. A barrage of bullets whizzed past, thudding into the rock and peppering the sand. Surely, he would run out of bullets before them and would never make it in a siege of any kind. Truly, his options were poor.
"Is there anything I can give you," the man said. "That will let me take the American and leave with my life?"
A pause. Well, at least they were considering it.
"Most likely not," the guard called back. "He's explained hisself and I'm satisfied with it."
"I have gold," the man shouted. "And other valuables."
"No gold in the world would make me give up this man."
"Why do you protect him so?" the man asked. "Is he a brother of yours?"
"Other than bein' a white American, we ain't brothers," the guard said. "But he has explained his post to me and the reason you pursue him so is firvolous and bastardly."
"Is it?"
"It is."
"Care," the man said, shifting his position slightly, "to explain that to me."
"You want this man on a charge a forgin' American monnies, correct?"
"Did you consider," the guard said, never taking his eyes from out of his rifle-sights, "the reasons for his doing so?"
The man had to admit that he had not and he said as much.
"Aren't you some kinda law?" the guard asked.
"In a way, of a sorts," the man said. "I have been paid to kill this man. I generally ask no questions."
"Well, it may benefit you to do so," the guard said. "For this man was forgin' monnies under duress, as payment to Mexican gangs for not bein' killed. Though he did run into these gangs desertin' the USS Maine, there is still some to be considered in all this."
The man, for a time, did not speak. He weighed this; the man he pursued so diligently had made falsified funds to be spend in American towns, that much was true. He had deserted the USS Maine.
"He would not have fallen into the forgin' trade," the man said. "Without first deserting the army."
"I suppose," the guard shifted. His legs grew tired. "But men have done worse when scared."
The man said nothing.
"You there still?" The guard asked.
"I lost a brother on that boat," the man said. "Younger. Died in the explosion."
Back behind the walls, the guard turned to Bennet and they exchanged a troubled glance. Bennet spoke up first.
"What was his name?" he said. "I mighta known him."
"Jacob," the man said from behind his rock. "Jacob Digby Noonan."
"Aye," Bennet said. "I knew him. Kinda shortish, quick sense a humour."
"That's him."
"He was in front a me in line just before I lost my guts."
The man was silent.
"I offered him to come, but he said he felt like serving in this mission was his destiny," Bennet paused, sighed. "Said that it was something he was meant to do."
"Sounds like him."
And without a word, the man got back on his horse and road back the way he'd come.

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