Friday, March 16, 2012

Rattler Stew

Ron Koppelberger
Rattler Stew
He burned inside, he raged in dust and sweat and chapped leather. He was heir to the blessing or the western curse, frayed like a heavy worn knot. His compulsion to seek the answer to his question was wildly overwhelming and he shook as he patted the flank of the black stallion. In the distance that defines the journey he knew he was destined to live, he saw the ghost of a memory, in gauze and smoke the wolves and coyotes and the drama of survival, rattler stew and bone dust for dinner he thought with great expectation.
Was he bidden to heaven or hell, he wasn’t sure and the rush still proved the way, fuzzy and long in the saddle. He counted the hours of fate and the lean of the shadows as he waited in the heat. Admittance to the world and scarlet rings around the neck, had it been the noose, the knot the hangman’s test, he wasn’t sure. Cause and smokey flames filled his mind for a moment and he faded just a bit, just a bit, almost imperceptible. He culled the silence and waited to be whole again, of this world and the next a mirror reflection of trials and punishments. He scratched his beard and grabbed the small flask of whiskey from his hip, unscrewing the lid and tilting the drink he swallowed hard and with difficulty. The whiskey tasted good, warm and real. He laughed and touched the saddle, perhaps the day had ended, perhaps he would travel on to tomorrows vision, tomorrows dream. Light lit the edges of his tired eyes for a moment and the reflection was good, had he been alive. The western sky sang seams of musical sash and crimson trails in twilight as he mounted the stallion and moved toward the distant revolution of his former life. He knew that death was thorny and full of whispering remembrances of old guilt, he had danced in the knot and the day had never ended.
Forever a brand he thought as he pictured the flank of a branded bull, burned in the shape of a cross, maybe a star. The time wore on and he had somewhere to go and some to visit, in haunt and blood perhaps, maybe in peace he wouldn’t know until he arrived. The sky turned to night and the lone rider moved farther west to the fate he had been reborn for, to the fray, the cause, the way of fortune and secrets. He sighed and faded just a bit as he moved closer to destiny.

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