The Hunter on the Crossing
A Border Short Story: All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (creative response)
There are awful spacing mistakes in this short story. When I edit it and refine it with a brief reflective commentary, these mistakes will be gone. The lack of talking marks is an obvious connections. It will be hard to track who is speaking in this story. When the final draft is presented, the sentence structure should clearly indicate who is talking. For now, just try and enjoy the story for the pile of words that it is. There are definitely mistakes about historical accuracy in this creation. I will improve on that when I further condense this response. Also watch out for contradictions, they bloody pepper this story so I need to closely repair those errors soon.
The rectangular poster was stuck with tack to the mudbrick wall of the shop and with a sort of picaresque depiction of the criminal it weighed upon. It declared a twenty thousand pesos bounty or a two thousand dollar award for whoever captured and delivered or captured and killed the green looking fella whose features suggested a Texan origin with Germanic ancestry. The observer for no reason noted that the corner of the wanted poster was stained with coffee and spit and it made him wonder about how men of vanity openly demand and request justice and condemn sinful men-yet righteously at the same time do not go out of their way to initiate justice. From the colour of the coffee the drinker must have spilt the same coffee the observer was slowly savouring the taste of with his tongue.
Without ignoring them, the observer looked upon the other twelve posters which encircled the curious one of the American. When he was just a little pup he would often ride his bike out of town to the crop fields after a sand storm and looked at the skulls of wolf heads that had been blown bare from their dusty cavities in the ground by the strong winds from the east where storm fronts collided with tornadoes around Chickasaw county and Colorado. One day he saw the several clean skulls of men, women and children and when you looked down at the ones that were tilted upwards you would find just like the observer did that the blackness in their eyes were like cylinders in the earth in which they burnt a charred hole when they died. The observer looked into their eyes for hours one day and went home thinking if you could see so much darkness in a man when he was alive. The tops of the skulls were like pillars strong enough to stand on and the observer had trained himself when he ran away from home-which men were worth digging into the ground with your feet and he also discovered he had a talent for pinpointing where the most shameful and unwanted weakness was in any man. Right now looking at these men, he would step on some of their graves but not all of them. Call him judgemental but he deduced what they were charged for without reading their crime. The boy was illiterate.
Evaluating the way in which the painter scratched their faces with a degree of anger into the material was easy for the youth. It determined how he or she deemed the severity of the crime and it was a useful trick to use. The abundance of posters in such a small area also indicated that there was a large share of blood money to be forged in an intensive and profitable period of time. From the looks of the town though, the observer was the first fella to take interest in the killing of these human beings. The coffee the observer was drinking from the iron cup tasted of dirt and the taste was compensated for with mint leaves and condensed milk. He looked again at the selection of lives designated for burial below the earth. A Stagecoach robber, A Rapist, A Fraud in the field of medicine, A Black magic cannibal, another revolutionary borne out of Don Evaristo. The others were wives and mothers who had shot or cut down their husbands and had taken their children to Northern Mexico from Honduras and the details in their face were not as angry looking as the men which suggested that the sympathetic painter got orders from the husband’s families to create the posters. Standing up with the posture of an agile creature-the observer walked to the ecru and amber coloured wall and memorised the shape of the American’s nose and the colour of his eyes and the presentation of his hat and hair style. The observer processed the sharpness of his cheekbones and the duality between his eyebrows and width of his jaw. He speculated on the colour of his eyes from the shade of the charcoal coated with ink and he determined the tone of his skin from the shade and ruggedness in his face and what those years of living under a sun that beats down on you would have an effect on his face. He was definitely Texan. He finally noted that in the picture he resembled those rogue heroes his father would read to him about out of those long gone pulp fiction comics and penny dreadfuls. Today he thought heroes referred to God or men like god. He wanted to think that heroes are real and but initially it was thoughts like that that what drove him outta the States. His goddamned father. The convicted greenie may look polite in this photo but right now he is probably haulin a string of stolen horses’ outta Devil-knows-where after deciding god doesn’t want to judge him yet. He wouldn’t be picaresque now. Right now, the observer wondered, he would be raw boned and edgy as a gang of buffalo. Someone didn’t like Texas the observer thought.
The observer ripped the piece of vellum from the structure and folded it deftly and walked diagonally to the desk in the shop. The shopkeeper asked the youth if he wanted to pay half price for a coco-cola and the observer responded in telling him that he would be better off selling stagnant water. M´as cafe´ despue´s? The observer replied that he wouldn’t like more coffee. He told him in his immaculate Spanish: I would like more if it was for free.
The bounty hunter walked outside and he strolled to the end of the main street in the tiny village and stood with his feet squarely spaced apart-facing the irreducible refuse of tin shacks and wooden bungalows. If he were an eagle he would compare this cluster of civilisation to the rest of the country and not give a damn about it. The hunter had a forlorn one point perspective from this spot and he admired the haunting beauty of the dysphoric landscape before him. The sandy road he stood upon sliced a solitary track into the rest of the chalky and cadaverous wilderness like a white creamy needle and he had learned very quickly upon his arrival that the word barren was unheard of in this place. Only in America did people know of barrenness. They read it in books and watch cowboys roam lands where the mountains are there just because it’s the only location they can use like the Rocky Mountains or Yellowstone.
In Mexico, barren was the regular way to grow crops or practise nomadism. The hunter imagined as he assessed the Sierra Madre-that the savage and malignant mountains here were a part of a skeletal force- a formation of highland communities that squabbled in heartless survival on their own, watched over by that consumptive force that related all men’s thoughts to money, women, drink and pride. Not the hunter. He sure was incompetent at riding horses but he knew how to sustain himself off the tiniest pathetic remains of dust and rotten animals. He had a stomach that his childhood friends couldn’t match when they took dares gulfing down raw rabbit guts and fox livers, they did it when the snow fell because that was when the meat was at its best safe to bite into. Thawed and chewy. In summers they switched to the neighbourhood cats or wild boar. Agility came into play when that happened.
The hunter turned away from the mountain range and looked ahead and he noticed where the further terminals of the sky were reducing to little ashen clouds from a previous thunderstorm. How the thunderstorm created clumps of smoke floating in the sky he didn’t understand but somewhere he knew-an oasis was burning to the ground and that meant no fruit, water or fish for a community until an oil company from the North took interest in exploiting this land. The storm had rendered a proportion of the higher dimension of the atmosphere with a permanent hue of alabaster and the sun was trying to shine through that milky smoke but it failed by only breaking through with an overhanging dark vermillion. His grandfather had requested his coffin to be built from the blood red burgundy of his native forest from the isolated Topeka reserve but this was darker than that. This colorant snaked in drizzles across the sky-kilometres back to the point above where the hunter stood and the formation of this phenomenon reminded him of the look of wax dripping in gluggy thin strips from the wick of a candle. He walked around normal town for a while, looking into shops and finding nothing useful except apple cider and firewood and cigarettes. He came to the local well which was down yonder the hill behind the tuckshop and he stood looking into it like he had come to the end of something. At least those empty eye sockets in the skulls, the ones he stared into when he was a little lad-he looked into them knowing that nearby, there was a home with a roof where he could pour himself a cup of milk without fighting for it. Out here, rooves are underrated but more importantly; a man’s actions become one of many narratives, a snippet of history. That history that is among thousands of other similar files of history is never recorded. They are just forgotten and buried by nature or the devil. No one cares. In contrast America is privileged for having its graveyards and wakes where families and friends can refresh and solidify their memories of the dead. South tells a different story though. And it isn’t sentimental remembrance and looking back on the good ol days.
If you want a roof, give and take blood. That’s what an acquaintance by the name of Quentin Cope had told him, nineteen, a black man he was riding with out of Wyoming from a group of angry rangers and white men and his cousin’s clan because they killed a bear with a trap in 41, before he ditched the country after Roosevelt claimed: we cannot build the future for our youth but we can build our youth for the future.
The trap was a small circle of duck liver with an invisible spring in the middle that brought together two handmade semicircles of tin and lead spikes and ductile daggers that were camaflouged by the bloody duck liver. Five days after sitting in a pine tree with their buckshot rifles –squinting through their scopes that were misty from the wind chill typical of the snowy winters in colossal Wyoming, using strong lengthy American agapanthus leaves strung together to strap themselves to the middle of the towering tree-they watched their snare work. Quentin wagered that a moose or lone buck would stagger into the trap and the boy hunter opposed that herbivorous mammals wouldn’t hurt themselves for meat. They used cigarettes and two packets of mullet and barley sugar drops to forge the wager and the hunter won six cigarettes and the food when a big and heavy sow on the fifth day at dawn-leaned into the trap with her front paw. Her cubs watched on as the bear roared and that sound echoed through the Jackson Hole Valley and all across the Great Green Plains to Cheyenne. The cubs were crying and they didn’t know why or what happened to their mother and Quentin joked about shooting some of the weeping children in the head to urge the tougher ones who were weeping little to feel sick at their hearts. As the hunter looked through his scope the mother looked at him and the boy looked at the mother and he made a choice about her family’s fate. He put his hand on Quentin’s gun and lowered it and told him that the children won’t die. They will die without their mother. You will grow used to killing young things out of joy and you will become close to killing young children if you find it easy. We need the money or else we starve-cub furs sell for heaps around here, children need them for growin up in these parts. Yeah well those children can learn to deal with the cold and cuddle their mommy and daddy if they need to. Quentin looked at him. If you want a roof, give blood and take blood. We need the money. This is America, and in America we are on our own. Killin kid’s aint apart of the dream. And workin flat fuck out at a sawmill for snotty cereal isn’t what the dream told us neither. Have mercy for the cubs. The mother is enough. C’mon. No eatin for a week and you aren’t eager to kill a bunch of em. We have food though. Yeah but you’ve won the bet though. Well quit sulkin, that’s the part the dream don’t like to talk about you gambling fool. Fuck you then. America’s not stoppin me. If that’s the way it is. …The bitch by itself is enough to last us a couple days. Quentin. Don’t.
Meanwhile the mother had started biting through her lower leg to remove herself from the cold teeth of the trap to get to her children in the final chapter of her history and the poor cubs weeped more tears for their mother as gushes of blood spread towards them and the tough mother just groaned and swore in her own language to extinguish the pain. The hunter was saddened that the cub’s history would be integrated with a parent who was dying for them just to reach them and touch them before the bear bleed out. Through her roars and grunts, the hunter decided she was telling them that they will be alright, deep down knowing that one day they will probably face similar obstacles because it is a cycle of life as the hunter saw it in all its possibility of being examined in its most truthful light. The moment held more knowledge for the ways of the world than a book by Faulkner could explain to him in the most clear and comprehensible way. He listened to a voice say that the past is never dead. It’s not even past. History that day saw an illusion of another of those wrongful maiming’s of creatures whose numbers are just beginning to faintly dwindle and the beginning of the repetition of death loaded with consequences that rings through the decades. Faulkner wouldn’t recognise however that it matters how the killer walks away from their crime and that the conclusions can’t be just as simple as death and it was a truth that the boy didn’t know how to read in the eyes of the pleading mother. All that could be nurtured out of the outskirts of what truth he felt when he shot the bear was that the rest of his future history was going to be guided by that intense moment. It happened before Quentin could do shoot a breathing thing, for the hunter had raised his own 303. Stanford Carbine and he drew in his breath and held it, and he made eye contact with the mother and she looked him in the eye again and she knew what was coming. She knew that he was about to do her a favour. There was some sort of understanding here passed on from the bear to the boy that she was losing too much blood for her to complete her bloody task and reach her children in time and that it will be better for her to be put down. Almost asking for it and hating that it should happen.
Two seconds after he drew in his breath and the mother’s tearful eyes closed-he shot down the bear and it slumped like a boulder in its deepening lake of blood and gushing feces. Snow started to fall and snowflakes were melting on the boy’s face, crumbling flecks of ice rolling and cold droplets pouring down his cheeks but the feeling of what just happened and his part in it was in no way any different to the feelings coursing in the orphaned children who now screamed for their mother. His mother when he was very young had read to him Lord of The Rings and he felt like he had begun an event just as sad as when Boromir was killed after the fall of Gandalf. Looking down dumbly on an orchestra of loss and pain. It was too late. Ajago was sitting in the bushes next to the gigantic tree, the leaves crisp from the beginning ice of the American winter. The whole time-watching. Five minutes later the placid wolf howled and no brothers or sisters answered his call. So that’s the way it is. A friend called loneliness, an agent of euthanasia that has pedalled extinction…and I. The ways of the world are unintentionally barbaric and it seems that there was no preventing what’s coming in the future, for if the boy felt that it was ideal to shoot a mother with six mouths of rare sun bears to feed, what good will harness the future children of humanity. It looks like if you aren’t with a side, you’re left to defend yourself in the middle.
Why did you do that? The mother was killing her children too by killing herself in front of them Quentin. It’s better if she’s down and out of her misery. The park rangers will take em in. Fine, have it your way happy dreamer, the cubs will probably be put to sleep or skinned anyway. The hunter believed in his argument because that was what breeded a loss of a part of oneself in human beings. That night he cried into Ajago’s fur and the wolf knew why he was hurting. The hunter vowed to never hurt anyone younger than him from then on out by hurting their guardians and protectors. Even if it meant no roof and a pouring and rainy sky. He never discovered the fate of those cubs but he knew if god let him put down their only parent than the laws of nature was as clear as how death row inmates say they killed their children because they stashed away their booze. Which meant that the cubs would have to become their own the next day or never.
After running away from Wyoming to Utah and sneaking away from the police who had locked up Quentin not for killing the bear but for being black, the boy set upon a ghost town called Logan and it was deserted because a water pipe that ran to the town broke and the government didn’t have enough to fix it with the war on. He met a homeless man called Joseph Brady and he stayed with him for a couple months to get fed and hydrated and healthy again. The seventy year old something talked about what it takes to break bread below the border. Below that so called haven he swaggered like a foolish son of a gun in. He talked to the youth about the First World War and death and sadness and how a war has always been raging in the Spanish land and the presence of death and sadness that he breathed in during his hellish chapter in France-has been embedded into the generations and future generations of boys and girls of the ignored nation of almighty Mexico. If he really was ambitious enough to take his young boots where not many men walk he would have to learn to sharpen his wild within and use it in harmony with the outer wilderness. So he trained in ways that advertised war heroes don’t sensationalise and talk about because the audiences at home would vomit.
After making his conclusion about the previous idea, he climbed up the hill and sat on the crummy slate wall that acted as a fence for the tuckshop against the neighbouring butcher where outside rotting coyote carcasses hanging upside down from a deer truss out the back and they were swarmed by blowflies. The hunter crossed his legs on the horizontal uneven shape of the top of the waist high wall. He waited for the heavens to change its miserable appearance before setting out but they didn’t. The hunter decided to make use of his small spare time then and there to see the oracle at the barbers shop. The oracle was a painter who sold his talent for locating people without seeing them. Twenty minutes later after paying the last three bullets from his Springfield sniper rifle to the oracle for his services-he knew where to walk to find the wanted boy. The melancholic state of the symmetry between the land and the sky had not changed during that time except for beginning to turn crimson gold at the epicentre of where the thunderstorm had occurred. To the hunter, the colourisation told him that night was coming and that he should start making distance. It was now late in the evening and the observer concluded that the mystical force he contemplated about in Mexico was planning to conduct one of those typical violent evenings of redness. The oracle had marked on the hunter’s map the trail to the wanted boy for the hunter’s last ammo. If he didn’t find the boy one year older than him, he vowed to travel back and take back the bullets with the magician’s eyes for claiming to see false things. The truth teller, as he named himself- implored the hunter to watch out for a boy who was reorganised by the force of Mexico into a raging bull and that the bull was riding upon a grand black Arabic horse that carried an extension of the bull’s soul. He told the hunter that the bull was heading north for San Angelo and that the bounty would be unjustified for tracking down beyond the border. The hunter chose this bounty because his was the lowest and getting paid highly meant attracting thugs and other savages like himself that were less refined and the hunter didn’t want to kill men out of a dispute over money. But that didn’t mean the bounty wasn’t high. It was just the least attractive. The hunter walked further back out of town and came across the gallows and he leaned against one of rotten wood poles that supported the execution platform and after ripping a piece of the vellum from the wanted poster, he pinched some tobacco and hash from his small leather pouch and lit up the cigarette. There was an open crate next to him where the hangman would chuck the heads of criminals into the basket if decapitation was there sentence instead hanging from the neck until dead. He tapped the cigarette with his forefinger to sprinkle the excess ash and embers into the crate and those small fragments of fire and discs of heat made some of the eyes from the fresher heads glow with emotion. Malice and Desperation. Well you get the world you deserve and the world you got stuck you there looking at me with no arms and legs to teach me some respect.
After finishing the cigarette he rolled down his sleeves and he started walking further out of that grotesque area of town, north at a brisk pace. The slowly descending grey clouds in the sky had disappeared now and that inflamed sunlight had gone a little dull and it shined on the few remaining flamingo flowers dotted around the expansive desert and it made them look like sparkling stars or opals against the oncoming darkness. As he walked, you could see by looking at him face on that the final remaining sunlight was curling around the back of his body and it was protruding outwards like spikes. That appearance quickly vanished as the sun went below this area on the dais of the earth. The hunter recalled how he had told the barber that he couldn’t read and would need to be told the conditions on which the boy was to be treated upon capture and the oracle had done this clearly. He left happy, feeling that he wasn’t judged.
The killer whistled for Ajago to run to him and the Alaskan wolf did so and they walked together. They walked north and the killer pulled up his black ghadi cloth that he had fashioned into a bandana. He disassembled the sniper rifle-pondering if he could sell the parts along the way for a good price. He piled the parts into his bag which he had carved out of the hide of an alligator some time ago. Around the diagonal of his chest was a waxy string which kept a dragon-smoke and mahogany longbow to his back above the bag. He had used nothing but a knife purchased from a castillero-made from the bone of a man’s bicep, to define the tool out of the tree trunk in Vas Diego which is a municipality next to a walled off zone out of Mexico City. He was impressed by the idea of a weapon being created out of a human skeleton and he had asked for the creator of the weapon and the smuggler had replied that she was serving a sentence inside Mexico’s most dangerous place and this impressed him even more. Swinging from his hip was a quiver filled with eleven arrows. The quiver was made from sap he galvanised from a maple tree so it became rubber and the arrows were wooden with the fangs of rattlesnakes sharpened into points at the end of the arrows. And yes, he studiously went to sleepless lengths to make sure that each fang still had long-lasting drop of venom in their needle eye cavities. The sheaths were cut from the brim of piranha and angler fish he had killed with a slingshot at a river in the Sierra Madre valley and a Matera had confiscated the nifty little thing from him some months ago. These sharp and spiky fins were shoved into the grooves of arrows and they worked better than the nine pesos arrows from the antique shops. On Ajago’s intimidating back was a small wooden saddle that looked like the seating area for an open carriage. In it was food and water-insects and bugs for those times when food may as well be sand and in the roped down pack was fur clothes and mountain goat skins which he shot with his bow when he was living with a nomadic group in the Trans Mexican Volcanic Belt for a week or two. The oracle had asked after he was paid why he would give away his last ammunition. I have my bow. I can command my brother to defend me and spill blood for me. Your brother? Yes, a wolf from the ice. The oracle had looked at him as if he was crazier than himself.
The killer’s grandfather had made a living assassinating head-hunters in California. His father walked down the south of America. His estranged father had wandered down the South of America to Texas and inevitably battled against men from Mississippi who dressed like every day was Halloween and wore pointy hats and he raged against them because they tried to rape his wife when she was delivering fruit to an army camp as her day job via truck. They tried but the wife did something in retaliation that was more forbidden by the bible than the molestation. The killer was born in San Antonio, Texas and he grew up with his Daddy and shortly he told the old man that was becoming more of an old timer that he didn’t like it so he went away like a stray dog and his father was the understanding owner. After all his experiences in the States-he was twelve by the time he reached and walked across the border and the next day he may as well just have turned twenty.
The Killer’s name was Osyka Tadita and he made a living brutally putting brutal men in the ground before they knew that their crime actually was a crime. America had put a handsome bounty over his head on his eleventh birthday because of the bear and his relation to his father and that because he was the son of a good man that started to smuggle drugs and hash after his son’s assent to as far north as Alaska-it was that he knew something and had a lot to do with it. Also two years earlier, the little tike had stolen a lawyer’s two thousand dollar suit because he thought that his father would be given money so he could pay for his son to go to school if he wore the same clothes as rich men but he didn’t understand who would give him money and that rich clothes demanded a rich background and his daddy’s genealogy was like a mongrel borne out of hidden tribes of people in the country. The father, unfortunately got ideas from this and two years later those ideas were carried out and the law shined its guns and warrants at him.
Soon the surroundings were shadowed by the absence of the moon and coldness encased the outside world. Those flamingo flowers were no longer shining because the moon was behind a herd of slow traveling bulks of water that shortly levitated off the holy grounf. Osyka started to run and aimed to outrun the dark clouds vaguely deducible. As the night grew hypothermic, his adroit and powerful muscles grew warmer. Ajago ran in pace with his companion and the pair ran close together through the darkness like blind disciples to the dawn to come, both guardians to each other now. Not just the wolf helping the boy’s once confused and sometimes scared version of himself-during his experiences of Alaska, Wyoming, Texas and the trail up to Logan. He had changed severely, but no organism saw that he was the same as the boy he intended to tie up and haul to jail. By now, Osyka and Ajago were carrying hearts that were as warm as heated copper. By the next end of the dreary fortnight, the lonesome runner came upon the wanted’s sorry ass.
Howdy. A downtrodden version pf John Grady Cole looked at him from his miserable plateau of flat sand mixing under the thickness of the blood of the deer. Across his lap was a Remington 23. with a hawk scope. All they needed now was a North Dakotan forest, a bear, and there wouldn’t be much distance between shock and Osyka. Cole never saw him walk down the slope of the faraway mesa with an arrow knocked onto his bow. Whattaya want sunboy? Oyska tightened his fingers around the string, as if the already thick skin there didn’t need more irritation. Your life. Hm. Well alrighto. The boy looked like he was as ready as a dog with a punctured lung. It wasn’t normal. The normal thing to do was beg and whine. This boy was acting differently. Where’d you get the gun, where are the horses thief? The gittin place. Very funny wacko. Are you acting like you don’t care or have you changed? The question isn’t whether I’ve changed, it’s why I didn’t realise it sooner. Realised what? No playin now funnyball, this has venom that will make you wish you never had balls. Venom that would make me wish I never had testicles? That’s right American. Huh. He chuckled sardonically. Well aint that somethin. One minute I’m snottin over a deer and a dead daddy, and the thought of pain makes me laugh and smile. Hehe. You’re the devil? Nope. Just a boy who wanted money like you. You should have talked to my dad, he knew or thing or two about money. Oyska let the arrow and fly and he knocked another arrow under two seconds flat. I don’t care who died or what your daddy knew. Only one person knows one thing that is certain. God?…That is the almighty behemoth your mentionin right?…hehe that aint original kid. That’s like saying God ignored the people before you so he could have something to say about what’s happenin right now and let me goddamn make you believe that what you want to do to me now is something that God doesn’t care about. Hell he may not even know. So if you want to talk about God and draw him into the speech that justifies you putting my ass down than go ahead, but know that holding his hand to make you feel better when you let go of that string will make you a devil. Well what the fuck you know white? I know that were both Americans. We still are…if we still love people back there. …Well shit. Oyska unslung his weapon and sat cross legged on the ground a little away from John, who was kneeling in the bloody sand with diamonds shining darkness in his eyes. Looking through the deer carcass and into the earth’s core, like he was reduced to that and that was where a possible answer for his downfall laid. For him to do that, Oyska contemplated, the world above must have not treated him like rainbows and sunshine. What you doin? John still looked still into the world. He told him everything. The death of Jimmy he wondered was intended to be a significant moment in John’s change into the bull idolised by the oracle but he decided it was not that. To John, it was an event of exposing the unfairness and inefficiencies of humanity’s potential to look through the darkness pulled over the lightness and ambition of survival. To Oyska, though he was looking at himself in a mirror. Both of them crossed a line that changed the way they dangled in existence internally and externally. They crashed against the world below the South like the way you splash into a backyard pool or pond. Both lingered for the country’s caress of success and nature’s plush whisper of approval. They preferred the world where you had to kill a part of yourself to better yourself. John failed where Oyska hadn’t: he found a girl. Daylight was pushed down with the sun still trying to hold it up like a fist below a heavy blanket. The dawn was dying with Osyka’s determination to fulfil the task he set out to do. He had not made an attempt to free Quentin from the bondage like John at least tried and talked about to do. So that’s all of it then? Yeah. Where’s your saddle, your horse? A quarter mile below the Vega behind me, at the meadow. …On my way here I sent a telegram to Grant County that I was huntin you and that I would ignore you if you made it above the border. You sent a telegram. I sent a telegram. And now you find me here below the line that puts me with you. Even if we are both Americans. I get it. Go ahead. Take everything. Just make sure you take the Big Bay to Connecticut. Jimmy’s foster parents might take it. Like you took Alejandra. Just because she was there. You talk like that with me and you’ll find yourself at the end of a road with me putting walls on both sides at the way out. Don’t push me, even if you have the weapon here. You have that gun. That’s a weapon. A weapon for huntin now. Not killin. If I were to kill you I would toss sand up into your face, stun you, and wrap my fingers round your throat until I don’t need to. They saw what type of gun I was using. I can’t afford to leave any trace. He thought about everything again. For a very long time. John was waiting. Go. John looked at him. His eyes tealish like they were beautiful coloured windows surrounded by the rest of his features scraped by the violent caves of the world. Go. Before I change my mind. Before I decide that I should limit your life. I won’t follow you. Quit sulkin and take some of the deer if you want. The rest is the price of your life. That’s a big price. It is. Because of who we are and that we are in Mexico. You should talk to a judge when you get up there, make sure you cancel that telegram. See you in heaven then. Only if god thinks what I’m doing now is right. Go. John chopped the deer in half and walked away. Oyska sat looking at the other half of the deer. Like it was the only certain way of the world for change and that improvement couldn’t be done through building on one’s self. He looked up to the once stagnant orange sky that now was moving over a reef of clouds. He set a fire and looked into the open flames, marvelling at the power there and the conflict within everything it touches and the conflict passed on by the afflicted and when they adapt to it they are one of many rocks in the world. Able to be designed into creatures of destruction or creatures of help. The next day the sky was the exact teal of John’s eyes and he wondered if he had finally made it above the border. Ajago ran over the opposite high ridge of the valley and ran all the way to the middle of the plain and sat in front of him. The wolf looked back and forth between his companion and the half of the deer burnt back to its healthy bones. I’ve been having this dream Ajago. I am older than I am and I am in America, somewhere in Minnesota or where it snows. Alaska even. We have a bag of money that we are carrying to a charity down south. He has the lantern to share the only light between us on our windy path. We both are on horses and mine is as healthy as that deer in the fire and his is scrawny as himself. He has his head wrapped in a blanket to keep his head warm. We ride for days and nights until we get to the meridian of whatever this world is. I stay back for a couple days to take care of my horse because she injured herself so my Dad carries the money with the Lantern ahead. I look up and see the strong outline walls around me I see that America all along was a valley and we started at the entrance. I see them because the outlines are blacker than the rest of everything I see. I get scared in the darkness and somehow I get the girl to get up and go again. We ride and I thought I would find him at the end of the valley where there would be a light smashing all the way through the barriers of darkness but I found him a quarter way forward. He was at a campfire, burning the money to keep himself warm. He tells me that he had made it to the end of America but all there was is nothing. He came back to try and find me and had to keep himself warm because he came close to dying. The blanket had gotten wet and stopped keeping him warm. He asked me how I didn’t die without much layers and I said that I didn’t feel cold in and that maybe we can live in the darkness because it saves us from seeing what the world inhabits. He gave me money he hadn’t burnt which he intended to give for charity but it was useless because he somehow knew with the wisdom he had that the nothing he perceived there was something that didn’t give dreams for money and effort. I think he realised that the land gave back your dreams through blood and different ways of letting it go from blue to red. He didn’t want to say to me that the burning money was running out of its power of comfort and that he would quickly die after it ran out. We looked at each other for a long time and I cried. And that’s all there was. Me crying at my father at the bottom of America. Crying like I had become a dumb and lawless heretic and it was going to have awful consequences laid upon me. By who or what I don’t know. Then I wake up. And I am left pondering the question why did he turn back at the end of the valley. I get it confused with the question of what is at the end of the valley.
Ajago looked at him with his nose tilted down with his eyes revealing their true size with their hazel irises beaming at him with emotion and pity. She whined softly. I know. I know. I shouldn’t sulk. It’s just…I have a strong suspicion that there is a prophet who exercises damnation and absolution. An archaic soul giving birth to generations of tyrants, preachers of merciless treatment of their neighbours. Lovers of death in their hands. Over us, around us, to our left right, to our front and behind. Not everywhere but it’s concentrated in the Promised Land. And that plague has just slowly dripped its sweat and grime down south. Like the candle in the lantern. God and the Devil. And the south has let that fluid fill a cup for it to drink and it’s become something different. I feel they are both the same and that we are seeing them with our eyes the wrong way. That’s what the dream and my life means to me Ajago. Anyway. We should go. When they left, night was beginning to set, and the two creatures went out of the valley, determined to exit the darkness, believing that it must have its limits. It must have a weakness. There must be true light somewhere Oyska thought with Ajago. Goodness grown by the temperance of humanity and not influenced by organisations. Their optimism fought against the brutal tone of their terrain and downtrodden climate like a mother soothing and calming a cowing baby.