Wednesday, July 6, 2011


After resupplying in a nearby town, Bennet and his two companions moved out again into the desert, setting their sites on a grouping of rocky hills not further than a two days' ride. It had occured to Bennet that he did not know where he was going, but was merely going for the sake of travelling away, it seemed, from everything to his back. The man who had waylaid him had, for certain, been the catalyst that had driven him on this journey out into the desert and all the nothing that lay within it, but Bennet felt that this journey had been coming for sometime, since there was little that was tying him down to the small town he'd left with Jake all those days ago. He had his shop, to be sure, and some friendly acquaintances, but the shop could be taken over by another and he could always meet more people. Since Vera and his daughter's death, he supposed, the open road and stretching himself as far and wide as he could had always been what called to his soul.
"Where you headed, anyhow?" Lester asked. Bennet shook from his reverie and turned to the tall, thin man.
"Nowheres in particular," Bennet said. "Somewhere else."
Lester nodded for a time and then spoke. "Why's that?"
"Sometimes a man's just gotta move away from where he's at," he paused a moment. "When there ain't nothin' holdin' him there anymore."
"I s'pose I can see the truth in that, though it would also behoove a man to try and build something back up from whence he comes."
"Where I'm comin' from ain't where I come from."
Lester turned to examine this man to whom he'd become atttached; medium height, solidly built and with piercing eyes that rarely shook from the horizon.
"Where is it, then, that you come from?" Lester said.
"Oh, now, ain't that a question," Bennet spat into the sand. "I met my wife, god rest her, in Blackwater, up someways north, and moved to Galston not six months or so later. We eloped, see."
Lester nodded.
"But I come to Blackwater from my daddy's farm which was some ways West, that is to say, a small town in the middle a nowhere with fewer prospects than what I found myself in."
"It don't seem," Lester ventured, "like your prospects is much increased."
Bennet turned from the horizon and studied Lester closely.
"No," he said finally. "As of late, they do not."
"And this man," Lester pushed on, "who is pursuing you with the most murderous of intentions - you do not know him nor know what he wants?"
"I do not."
"That all seems mighty peculiar to me."
During all this, Kuruk the Apache said nothing, merely riding in silence towards the rocks on the horizon as the two white men spoke of things past.
"It is peculiar to me, also," Bennet said. "It is also peculiar that you are askin' so many questions."
"It is his way," Kuruk's voice was like a roar in the night, unexpected and powerful. "He asks questions and he talks."
At this, Lester let out a bellowing laugh. "The man speaks the truth! I do, indeed, speak much and ask many questions! Pardon me if it has offended you, but I am merely trying to get to know a man who has brought upon our company the possibility of a deadly pursuer."
"You ride with that possibility every day, riding with an Apache as you do," Bennet nodded at Kuruk. "There are those who take not as kindly to them as we do."
Kuruk grunted.
"Double the reason why," Lester continued, "that I wish to establish why we should bring more risk upon us."
Bennet sighed and, after a moment, spoke. "You know that I am a deserter of the USS Maine."
"I do."
"On my way home I encountered a gang of Mexicans who would not let me pass, saying they would kill me and some how fetch a good price for my hide and possessions."
Lester said nothing.
"So, I made a deal for my life. I said that I was a blacksmith and that I could make them fake money. I could press coins and hammer out moulds for printing bills, too. And this I did for some time until I decided I had paid my debt to them for letting me live."
"This did not end well?" Night had begun to fall and a wind kicked up sand around them. A coyote cried.
"It did not. They killed my wife and daughter in front of me, violating my young daughter until she died for her injuries. I continued to provide them with fake money because I had nothing left to lose. So, this man pursuing me, is likely doing so because of that."
Lester sat silently on his horse for many moments. Kuruk turned and looked Bennet up and down, his eyes pitying the man, nothing needing to be said.
"Well, then," Lester said. "The road calls to you."
"It does."
And then men rode off silently into the night, coyotes crying after them.

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