He walked slowly up to his horse, thinking about each step he took, if they were normal steps, if he had woken up from a night of non-drinking would the steps look the same, would they be more crisp, what if someone jumped out of the wood work and tried him, wanted to fight, wanted to shoot him. He wasn’t a hundred percent. Most of all he thought about the sun, and the cactus and the rocks and wooden buildings that surrounded him. “Where the hell did they get the wood” everything seemed bigger than it was. Where did the profit of this town come from? How did they make it, how do we make it… these are the things he thought walking to his horse. The horse he called shitgoose. It seemed lovely and affectionate at the time, like an old friend, later the horse became “shit” in all the tough guy bravado that a man calls the things he truly loves. Shit took him many places, shit was a girl, and probably the best girl he had ever known. He had spent hours wondering about how such skinny legs could be so strong and move life forward. He thought things like, “shit, I love you but can you carry my ass three years from now?”
He thought about her being a nag, old and just needing a pasture, a view, some oats and water… these are the things he thought walking towards shit after a reckless night at stewards.
There was blood on his shirt that he couldn’t recall, and a wicked piss building up, it was surely a good time that he would walk away from without all the discomfort of being told what a good time he had. It was important to move on, to take shit other places.
He wanted to take it in, the vistas around him, the heat of day, the mountains of snow, the rocks and lizards that stirred so, he wanted to suck it up and drink it. He couldn’t, he had to move. Not knowing where, he hopped upon shit imagining people watching him, judging him, thinking, “not too bad, that was the guy last night that caused all that ruckus, the guy that punched Tom McCarty in the head and knocked him out… he seems in charge of his facilities.
And he rode away
Thinking this, taking in the cactus, taking in the sun, wishing to hell he had more water or knew a good doc that could put his head to sleep.
The mountains rose and crawled out of the earth like turtles and tide. Slow. He respected slow because he understood it, he was afraid of fast and human because there were too many possibilities. Fire. That was easy, and finding water, or sleep, or setting a rock trap, this was easy. Nature was easy, man was different.
He found a gully, where a river once was, nothing now, maybe if lucky a few rocks that held shade, that kept snow that melted into his blood.
A cave, on the rock wall and a fire would keep him going, shit, was shit out of luck, but the first night he paid extra attention and made sure to wake up every 40 mins to stir the fire and pet her…
The second night was different though; she kept walking up to the edge of the cavern and nudging him, waking him like a woman does when in need. He knew movement was tomorrow.
“Just let me sleep”
And he slept hard like coma. She understood.
God he woke up, it must have been a million years. The sun was cracking the rocks the way it does wood in summer. There were all sorts of noise in the gully. Stretching, shaking, yelling, he walked over to shitgoose and gave her a few love taps on her shinny nostrils like a boxer…
“What’s up girl?”
He proclaimed. Rolling up his Pendleton wool into tight hip saddle bundle.
“Are you ready?”
He shouted, echoing upon himself.
Shit was ready, she smiled he believed as he hopped upon her with all the new views to see as he marched forward.
Her steps were different, sort of lengthy and exaggerated like she was always stepping
Over something unwanted… fast and uncalculated, yet calculated. Forcing him to think
About her and how she perceived the world.
“Don’t worry baby, tomorrow we will be kings.” and he believed it... The world around
He afforded nothing less. He kissed her sweaty nape and rode on. But she kept on
Stepping upon the world like it was ice to melt.
every where he rode he heard the music in his ear the tunes that resonated with him he imagined making a talky, something different then the other talkies out there, sound and music, and this scenery, the things he was seeing but he then and there alone with shitgoose he knew the hardness of capturing these weird events in life, that a camera couldn’t capture what he was seeing. He had never seen a camera before, or knew nothing about them, but what he had seen at Malloy’s picture house, it didn’t capture the smell, the sweat, nothing was wide enough and encompassing, he wanted to document it. The man sitting next to him, Gabe Greenhill, a Brit who played cards shitty and shifting his shoulders about when he had a bad hand… he wanted legacy. But sometimes living life, it’s hard.
Around ten he jumped off shitgoose, and walked around a bit, bringing the blood back into his toes. How good it feels to be young, when you are old. He was old, not young, but at moments he felt young. When the blood returned to his toes he felt really young and strong. Mostly because there was nobody around and he owned it all, a brief moment in history, and he was his own god. Shitgoose was Jesus. He petted her… while looking for water. The sun, a white man in the sun, the sun was changing him and he had to pay attention, he could find water, he could find food, he could kill his horse and eat for longer than you knew, but that sun could kill a white man.
They found a river.
A river. He sat there and knew he was good, that everything was alright…do you hear that sound shitgoose? That is life, and if you stood there you could hear the music of water, cold water from mountain snow melt.
Civilizations have been built off of this… soon people will be upon this like locus, love it shitgoose, love it, take it in…
He looked upon the sky and there wasn’t a cloud, he wanted to give it all up and take it all at the same time. He wanted a woman, the next time so long away where he would connect with a woman and fall in love in his own moment in history and take her in like he takes in this rocky gouge… he will remember the moles upon her back, and her smile and her smell. His senses will take it all in, it will always take it in. it’s just natural that way.
He could see it off in the distance, the heat waves rising off of it like a fire. At first he thought it was a lake. Instinctually he knew it was something, there was a large range behind it, and some trees which meant there was some water which meant there was some life. As he got closer he could make out structures, about two miles out he found a cattle skull some horse shit, and old dried out fence post. Instantly he grew excited about what laid ahead of him. A shower was one of the prospects, booze and bed were another. If all went well he would find a woman, he could find his love right around a corner. Everyday was the day that his life could change just like that.
There was no smoke and there was no movement.
He maraudered shitgoose right towards the middle of town stabbing at his best chances of running into something rather than the outskirts. He imagined the whole town, the life of the town, the stores and conversations that he would have before getting there. He saw himself dusty and worn and how the people would see him, rugged and earning his keep. The interest that they would have in who he was and where he came from and the stories that he would tell. He would be a new man and could act however he wanted. He could be the silent man, the one who sat quite in the corner growing interest of eyes, or he could be the loud story teller, the joker making everyone laugh. Both sounded ok to him and his mind was unsettled as he started upon the outlaying structures. A barn of sorts, then a horse shade, a well, some fence and road which he followed from there on out.
There was nothing, from the get go, and he knew something was wrong, at first he pictured people at a hanging, then a fair, then a barn raising, but he knew, while trying to look into the windows that no one was there.
It was hot. He pulled up to what used to be the town square, the bar and the post office and he found a trough for shitgoose to drink from but then decided with better judgment that the water was stagnate and most likely foul with larvae and bird fecal. He needed to find water first, fresh water and he knew the source was near because of all the greenery. He hitched shitgoose up to a post distant enough from the trough that she wouldn’t see it and go mad, and made his way towards the large cotton woods springing upward at the base of the range. About a hundred yards out he could hear the river. It was a clean clear river and adorned with clam shells which was odd because they were so far from an ocean that he knew of, yet it was. The water was cold, very cold which meant it was from the mountain and from snow melt and had dangers packed with in as ice is known to keep bacteria and death before a thaw, but the river was fast and for the large part flowing over mostly sand and rock so it was filtered and he knew it was safe. He walked back towards town with comfort on his mind knowing that he had accomplished one of his goals. As he got closer to shitgoose more doubt grew and he began to wrap his mind about the situation in a most curios way. His curiosity started to get the best of him as it always did… he started looking into the windows, and talking loud to present himself and after no response he decided to try a door. It was open and he entered. It was shady and cool smelling of pine, borax with a hint of shit wafting and sticking to the hairs of his nostrils. He moved through the residence like one moves through a grave yard careful not to disturb. He announced himself upon every door jam and room, elongated his neck through the threshold, took in the surrounding and proceeded with caution. When he was comfortable he began to open draws and closets… finding pictures on walls, and silver wear wrapped in burgundy cloth he started to take it in. he started to think. He started to imagine. At first he noticed the odd feeling of wrong then thought that it was a necessary exploitation like and artist thinks there are no boundaries and he really began to explore and voyeur over what he was seeing. It was tremendously satisfying, it was tremendously eerie.
These houses that people just like him built with dreams. And packed them in, their china, the perfect table, the way the roof dripped the rain off, into a ditch, a gutter, they had it all figured out. It was a good place. A PO Box. Somewhere in the line of places, the places that humanity set up and thought was good or better. A better place for a man to meet a woman and make love to that woman in a bed that they picked out. One where he seemed so far away snoring, the one where she didn’t roll over in her dreams and smash him upon the skull… these beds, these houses a million miles away so empty. He, and his committee couldn’t figure it… so he ran through them… looking for tomorrow and yesterday at the same time. There were panties that he pulled out, and guns from draws and photo albums…
He walked back to shitgoose around noon and petted her upon the head and said, well fuck, let’s check this out, and moved his legs, one in front of the other into the post office.
You could smell it before you walked in… it was like the dead salmon of a river run. He smelt him before he ever saw him, and he walked though the doors, his nose pulling right until he seen the first human being of this town. He circled safe, the young man that was growing a beard to look older, his hand on his hip, his gun, his face sunk so deep and willowed like fall came upon him in an instance and dried him the fuck out.
It was a nice piece, all the rounds in the chamber, his belt was nice… he imagined wearing that belt and that side arm upon himself.. so he lifted it off the dead man and put it upon his own waist…he almost wanted to run back to shit and tell her what was going on, but he pulled up his socks and realized that the mail was here… the fucking mail, the what is going on, what is going on…?