SSS: (Sadie’s Short Stories); Reed Colt, and the mysterious stranger

Reed Colt stared over the ravine, his crisp hazel eyes scanning the horizon. The ravine was shadowed by the dawn of the morning. The ravine was covered in a thick layer of sand, the brush browned by the sun’s rays.  His light red hair was long, his red beard rough and unshaven. Scratching his beard, he thought quietly to himself, for he was a thoughtful man. He had a fiery temper, like the color of his hair. He also had shaggy eyebrows, which were furrowed in a frown. Seeing dust along the trail he had taken, he realized it wasn’t his, it was someone else’s. If he was any shorter, he wouldn’t be able to see above the brush blocking the ravine’s edge. When looking for gold you had to be careful of those who are greedy. They will go to any lengths to get more, which has stopped many from coming west looking for gold. Disappearances of forty-niners were a regular occurrence. The trail was leading him to a mining town west of the ravine.   

Thinking back to when his Mama would wipe his head with a wet rag when being sick, she would always talk gently. When Mama used to give him cold snow from outside to hold on a swollen eye, after another fight, she would always tell him to pick his fights wisely, but in a gentle voice, not like Pa. Pa would tunk him upside the head telling him to shape up. Getting into fights at school was a big problem, even at home fights occurred between the siblings. Thinking of his Mama made him recall just how beautiful she looked. She had brown hair, brown eyes, the most beautiful woman. 

His thoughts stopped abruptly when a twig snapped. He twisted around to see a dark-eyed man, dark hair, tan skin. His eyes were the color of rich chocolate, the skin only a few shades lighter. His hair was so black it was almost blue. 

“Hello Reed, wouldn’t you think you Irish men would be here out west, looking for, let’s say, gold?” The man’s dark eyes twinkled, a slight grin on his dark face.

“Wouldn’t think a Hispanic would be out of Mexico, non-the-less Utah.” Reed looked the man down, he had a gunbelt, a twenty-two Caliber Revolver by his hand. A rifle was slung over his shoulder. The man was smart, keeping himself armed. You could never be too careful out here…

“Well, Senore, I’m here to talk about your unique ability to determine a man’s intentions, and your skill at,” the man ran some rocky soil through his rough fingers, “finding gold.” The Mexican wanted Reed for a sniper position, not only looking for gold. That was clear enough in the edge to his voice. It was low and quiet, barely enabling Reed to hear. 

“I know you have to redeem yourself, prove your worth to the father you left long ago.” The man’s dark form was covered in a long, red poncho, his sombrero tilted over his face. Reed remembered leaving his father after the woman he loved died. His father told him to control his anger, and forgive her killer… Reed killed the man that night. Redemption was needed. Controlling his temper was harder than anything he has ever had to deal with.  

“Anyways, you’re old enough to work on your own, let’s say, twenty-three?” The man threw a sack of gold at his feet, gold clanking as it hit the dusty trail. “You can bring so much more if you work for me. To your father, of course.” 

Reed picked up the gold.  Just last month he had turned twenty-three, September, was it? He could pass for thirty-three though if he wanted to. 

“You could be the perfect prodigal son, but you could stay and work for me for as long as you wish.” The man walked up to Reed and held out his hand. “Do we have a deal?” 

He took the outstretched hand. They shook hands.

Reed Colt was a gunfighter from Nevada, the best shooter in the west, at least that was what some said. He was a man of brawn, working for his food. Being a shooter and a forty-niner came hand-in-hand out here. He came from a poor family, but a loving one. The family went to church, made enough money to buy enough clothes and food for the year. They were satisfied with the life of a farmer, but not Reed. He went off to make a fortune and come back to build himself a ranch.  

“So, we have a deal.” The man nodded at Colt, Reed gripping the sack of gold tight. “I could use a good shooter on my side.” 

Reed Colt nodded and he followed the man down the ravine. They came to their horses and mounted. They rode off west, down through a rough gorge. The mining town wasn’t but a three days journey west, but it was a long, hard trail to ride.  

They made their way slowly, picking their way across the rocks. 

“Stop!” The Mexican man stopped, and Reed clasped his shotgun. “Listen!” 

Reed listened. The sound was off rocks falling from the gorge. The rocks weren’t accidental, they were from boots losing their grip on the ledge. When they were about to start a shot rang out. The Mexican man went limp in the saddle, gripping a bloody shoulder. 

Reed rode up and grabbed the reins of both their horses, galloping them. He looked back to see a man’s figure disappear over the gorge’s rim. His dark figure disappeared in the dusk.

Reed Colt rode on for two days, his heart pounding. Would the Mexican man make it, all the way to the town that he sighted yesterday? Colt didn’t know, but he had to try. He had been feeding the last of the jerky torn into chunks to make into a gruel to feed to the man. Reed would bandage the wound as best as he could every time they stopped, whether for water or for sleep.  When they came to a turn in the trail, he heard a rattlesnake. Its rattle shook violently. 

The rattlesnake was a Western Diamondback, its gray skin shimmering in the last light of the evening. Reed aimed his shotgun at it, venom dripping from its fangs. Reed was bucked by his horse, who ran off. Reed banged his head against the stones on the trail, leaving his head ringing with pain. The snake bit the Mexican’s horse, the horse rearing in pain. Reed shot, the rattlesnake’s head blowing it clean off its body. The Mexican man lay at the feet of the dead horse. The horse had died of the poison, not two minutes after the bite. Reed tugged on the man, who was laying in pain at his feet. The blood oozed from the reopened wound on the Mexican’s shoulder.  He grabbed him by the shirt, pulling him onto his shoulder. He felt the warm blood gush onto his rough hand, sending him shivering in nausea. He could taste the bile rising up in his throat but kept it down. Reed then heard a train whistle. He could smell the coal smoke from all the way on the trail.  

“I can make it to the train, it’s not but 30 yards from here!” Reed ran, the body becoming heavier by the minute. He saw the train, its gleaming black polish shining in the dusk. The train had a long caboose, it’s cargo cars loaded heavily with cargo. They have freshly painted a greenish color, shining with fresh polish. He hurried, the man falling off his shoulder. Reed ran up to one of the cargo cars. The train was going slow, which helped Reed open the door. He slid it open, the rails that held the door squeaked with rust. Reed threw the man into the cargo car and climbed in after him. He slid the door shut again after him when he heard a figure shuffle in the corner. 

“Don’t shoot!” A man with smokey-gray hair held up his callused hands, his rottweiler barking furiously. Reed had his gun pointed at the man, when he felt a tug at his pant leg. The Mexican shook his head up at Reed. 

“He is just hitching a ride like we are, just leave him alone.” The Mexican grabbed Reed’s hand, bringing the gun down, pointing the barrel at the floor. The Mexican then fell back into unconscious sleep. Reed sighed, putting his gun back in his belt. The old man in the corner then laid down in a pile of hay and went to sleep.

Reed then helped the Mexican into a pile of hay and nestled in beside him. He then closed his eyes, drifting into a deep slumber. 

Reed awoke during the night, looking around him he saw the moon flitting across the cargo car. He looked at the man in the corner, the dog sleeping silently beside him. Reed checked the Mexican man’s wound. He bandaged it again, cleaning it with a wet rag. He then went to a window in the car. The inside of the car was of cedar wood, probably from the east, which was where most of the lumber came from. He looked at the stacks of hay stacked against the sides of the car. They were fresh, being delivered early to the livery in the mining town most likely. He looked out over the passing desert. He saw the moon’s light falling soundlessly over the desert. It relaxed him. Whatever was going to happen, they would make it. He had done this for years, coming face to face with horrific circumstances. He now had an injured man that needed to be put in a hospital and no horses. What could be any different about this circumstance that would distinguish it from all the others?

Thanks so much again for reading Sadie’s Short Stories! I absolutely LOVE writing these short stories, and short scenes from the book I’ve been working on for quite some time. I hope you all enjoy reading these articles, and that your informed and entertained. Thanks again guys, hope that you keep reading our blog posts frequently! – Sadie


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