Grounds for Peace

A fire crackles in the distance. All is near silent except for fire splitting wood and ash drifting like heavy dust to the flat ground. A couple of old crates and a hay bale circle the fire with a single cowboy prodding the logs before setting an old, dinged up pot on top. He then stretches out his lanky, jeaned legs on the ground and leans back against the hay.

Smoke meanders around the site, coloring the breeze in thick shades of gray. The man tips his hat forward and interlaces his fingers behind his head, the picture of peacefulness after a long day. The moonless night sky showcases nothing but thousands of pinpricks like light shining through a buckshot pail.

“Best come have a sit down, son. Coffee’s almost up.” The man’s voice resonates low and gravelly as he maintains his lax pose. A pair of .38 specials glint from his shoulder holsters while a double-barreled shotgun rests against the hay alongside him. A man is right due his peacekeeping, metallic friends, especially as he’s just tending his own fire and brew!

“I can tell you’re a man out for a wander and hopefully not no fool.” He tips his hat back and gestures to one of his revolvers. “Suppose you’ve looked ol’ Chuck up for some coffee and grounds-tellin’. No one reads ‘em like I do no more.”

He peers over into the pot and grunts satisfaction before pouring out a tin mug of coffee sludge and handing it over.

“Now, you’ve got to choke it all down iffen you want a readin’. Cain’t be wastin’ none of it.” He toasts the air with a brown bottle he had hidden away and dips his head.

“Alright there. Atta boy. Now, let’s see what you’re after.”

He takes the tin mug back and tilts it this way and that, muttering indecipherably into his bushy whiskers. After a moment or two he flips the mug upside down and slams it on the ground with a dull whup punctuating the act. He then slowly lifts it back up and sets it right side up off to the side, abandoned and forgotten.

“Humph!” He quietly exclaims. “Perhaps you are the fool. Says here you like to love ‘em and leave ‘em, showin’ more loyalty to your nag than your lass. Now let me tell you somthin’ worth rememberin’. A horse is a fine beast to keep, but a right nice filly is worth more than a herd of anything else.”

He climbs to his feet, dusts his hands off on his jeans, and gives a single nod to emphasize the rightness of his words.

“Course, there’s another bit I’ve got for you and it won’t cost you but a mite bit.” In the blink of an eye he smoothly pulls his left revolver and fires once, twice, three times. “I won’t be havin’ you lovin’ an’ leavin’ my girl today, tomorrow, or ever. I’ll be keepin’ her and your horse mighty fine from here on out.”

With a few kicks to douse the fire, he tips his hat to the fresh corpse by the pit and ambles away.


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