Ben peered through the palmettos at the big house. Beside it stood the stables, painted white and trimmed in green. He crept slowly through the undergrowth, careful of twigs and fallen limbs. His pistol was ready if someone came at him. He surveyed the yards and saw no one moving., just the horses standing motionless through the open doors. Ben dashed out of the brush and into the barn.
The smell stirred the memory of his own home before soldiers had come. But that was back, miles away and seemingly in some other time. It was alfalfa, manure, the horses – that sweet smell. He walked down the aisle, paying attention to the size of the horses. Ben chose a big red roam, let her smell his hand, and saddled her.
Just as he rode out the stable door, a white man rounded the corner. It was really a boy, a thin, tall boy. He pulled his revolver out and pointed it at the boy, but he couldn’t shoot this boy. Enough shooting.
He wheeled the horse and spurred it toward the road that disappeared into the overhanging trees down the way. Ben heard hollering of an older man, a second man back there. The first shot bellowed behind him. It was a shotgun. Then, another. The pellets dug into his back, blood splattered behind him and onto the flanks of his mount. He fell, his left foot still stuck in the stirrup and the horse turning, running sideways leaving behind a trail of Ben’s blood along the rocky road.
The horse stopped, looking back at what he had drug, at the groaning body he had pulled along the road. Ben lay there, his blood spreading brightly beneath him. He heard the boots of the man and the boy coming after him. Their shadow fell across his eyes. Continue reading