Author: Joseph Kiley PM
An allegorical work about a mysterious outlaw in the old west running from the law. Drawing influence from Stephen King's "The Gunslinger" series, it is labeled "Western" for only the setting, not the themes.Rated: Fiction T - English - Western/Suspense - Words: 884 - Published: 01-22-12 - Status: Complete - id: 2990895
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What's worse, a mortal sin or one thousand peccadilloes? The outlaw's wide-brimmed hat cut noisily through the swift air currents as his horse galloped into the dawn's grapefruit splashed canvas, the rounded devil horns of cactus silhouettes skimming the very bottom of his peripheral ominously. The thirsty cracks in the ground mirrored the wrinkles on his face—the folds on his forehead were now permanent creases from a long life of worrying and wondering. These wastes were all that he knew. They were both beautiful and ugly. Dear and contemptible. Mind-clearing and didactic. One dirty hand firmly grasped the saddle of a sprinting horse, and the other closed around a crudely woven off-white colored bag with a money symbol stitched into the side, like you might see in an old cartoon. They say that on the most basic level exists two needs of a sentient creature: to eat, and to escape. The primary of his needs was to eat, which caused him to enter this cycle in the first place. But more urgent even, was the desire to not be eaten. That is, if you leave the cage door open, the mouse will try to escape regardless of your traps or your nets or your poisons.
"Shit. He's gaining on us. Don't stop now Morty. We're almost out of the county." mumbled the outlaw to his horse. A bullet whizzed by the brim of his hat as a loud snap resounded in the emptiness of the arid valley. He looked behind him into the darkness with his horse still galloping at full speed to see another man on a horse following closely behind, gaining swift meters as Morty slowed with exhaustion.
Turning his calculating gaze back towards the tip of the rising ruby, he dug his spurs into the sides of Morty and leaned forward, picking up blinding speed, a defiant grin across his face. Vehemently he continued, hoping vainly that Morty would pass the gradient; to abscond from the darkness and his pursuer once and for all and pass the threshold into the warm favor of the dawning day. A thin blur of milky honey now surrounded the concealed orange ball, and what appeared to be hills before in the cobalt blanket of night now revealed themselves to be canyons, which he thought would undoubtedly spell his end.
"I got you now!" he heard from behind him. Regaining his senses, he pulled back with all of his might on the reins and the horse snorted in surprise, bucking up to its hind legs and spilling a cloud of dust off of the cliff-side. With one more tug, Morty turned around to face the outlaw's enemy.
"A rock and a hard place sounds delightful right now" mumbled the outlaw to himself. The galloping ahead slowed to a stop as the he had a full view of his relentless pursuer. An overweight fellow in a sheriff's uniform sat sturdily on a brilliantly fit black horse, laughing.
"That money ain't 'yer's, and you know it, outlaw," he barked gutturally through his thick mustache. "Now hand it over and it won't have to get...ugly." The tangerine glow of the sun gleamed across the surface of his gilded badge and belt buckle as he leaned down to place a bullet in the cylinder of his gun. Without saying a word, the outlaw dropped the bag of money on the ground and adjusted his hat. The sheriff's eyes followed the falling object and a bushy eyebrow raised in confusion when it hit the ground. A metallic clang followed by a loud "boom" echoed through the canyon below. The sheriff grabbed at his ribcage with both hands then fell backward, dead. The outlaw held his arm out straightly like a clock hand, the end a shiny chrome revolver with a hardly visible smoke escaping the barrel. Everyone has a death date, and the sheriff's was twelve-fifteen.
The black horse neighed in terror and turned around, galloping into the distance with the sheriff slumped over it, flopping like a rag-doll. The outlaw holstered his gun and hopped off of his horse, eased with relief. He looked at Morty with a smile, then set his gaze onto the bag which he had dropped. He examined the fabric and began to laugh morbidly. His fickle purposes for money led him to take on the all-too-natural trait of recklessness. It's an animal instinct present in every creature able to move, yet only humans have the condescension to attach such negative stigma to it. Recklessness was carved into every aspect of his past; scrawled into the walls of his future actions. He had no problem with it he thought. Destined to live in a state of gradation, much like the golden dawn dancing with the blue abyss, he continued along his path towards the former. Homeostasis but no equilibrium. A path but not a straight one. Happiness but no security. Ambiguity. The train of fortune chugged to the left according to the fortunate, but it moved in parallax from the opposite side of the same track. The outlaw could do nothing but wave his gun at the fortunate from over the rails.