by Andrew King
Artwork by Brian Michael Barbeito
He’ll meet high noon on his horse,
Raymond rode his boys hard through the day, over hill and mountain, around canyon. Just two days distance til Geraldo’s Stead and after that it’d be blue skies and rooms rent cheap. The sun rode hard too—so hard that Raymond wasn’t entirely sure if it was two days, three, or more, really.
But every cowboy knows,
Wasn’t a speck of food left. Wasn’t a drop of water. They crossed that desert—dirt, sand, tumbleweed, rut that twisted a horse’s ankle. There was food for a little after that, but not long. Days and nights ran together and by then there was only Raymond and his horse there to see it, but his horse couldn’t see much by then. Foam wreathed its mouth. The animal was thirsty, and Raymond knew, soon dead. At least then he’d have one last good meal before Geraldo’s Stead. One last drink.
That when the sun sets in the west,
At Geraldo’s Stead at last without horse or companion, and Raymond bought a ticket back east. Raymond the cannibal, they called him. Raymond the vampyre, who put a dollar sign on survival and paid that price before God and everyone. He couldn’t live there. Not when the Geraldo’s Stead folks knew what he done and assumed what they didn’t know. He boarded his carriage and never looked back.
He’ll don a city slickers clothes.